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Posted on: August 13, 2020

Water System Maintenance Program

Pinellas County temp water disinfected changed

Pinellas: Water system maintenance 

• Semi-annual water system maintenance project to begin Sept. 20

• Routine switch from chloramine to chlorine improves water quality

• During project, water will continue to meet all federal and state standards


The method of water treatment for Pinellas County and its wholesale customers will be temporarily modified between Sunday, Sept. 20, and Friday, Oct. 9. The second of two short-term changes from chloramine to chlorine disinfection in 2020 is a routine maintenance measure designed to optimize water quality.


Those that will benefit from this program include Pinellas County Utilities water customers, as well as customers in the cities of Clearwater, Pinellas Park and Safety Harbor.


The disinfection program is designed to maintain distribution system water quality and minimize the potential for any future problems. There have been no indications of significant bacteriological contamination problems in the system. The water will continue to meet all federal and state standards for safe drinking water.


Kidney dialysis patients should contact their dialysis care provider for more information about chlorine treatment. Fish owners should not be affected if they already have a system in place to remove chloramines, but should contact local pet suppliers with any questions.


Customers may notice a slight difference in the taste and/or odor of the water during this temporary change in treatment.


Chlorine was used as the primary disinfectant in the water for more than 50 years prior to 2002. Pinellas County switched to chloramine in 2002 to ensure compliance with Environmental Protection Agency standards. Many communities using chloramine convert back to chlorine for short periods of time to maintain system water quality.


For more information, please visit http://www.pinellascounty.org/utilities/ or contact Pinellas County Utilities Customer Services at (727) 464-4000.


The chlorine maintenance program underscores the county’s strategic goal of protecting and improving the quality of our water.



Chlorine Maintenance Program Talking Points – Fall 2020

a. Chloramination of drinking water has been used successfully by water utilities for over 40 years.

b. The state Health Department supports free chlorine treatment as a system maintenance practice.

c. This treatment, from Sept. 20 through Oct. 9, is the second of two planned treatments this year designed to provide our customers additional protection against bacteria. The conversion to free chlorine will help reduce the likelihood of bacteria occurrences.

d. The level of chlorine will be 3.0 – 3.5 milligrams per liter for most customers. This is the same level of chlorine used to treat our water for the past 50 years—prior to converting to chloramines in 2002.

e. Daily testing is being conducted to monitor water quality and effectiveness of the temporary change in treatment method.

f. Many of the utilities on a chloramines disinfection system periodically utilize a free chlorine treatment program as part of routine maintenance.

g. Those affected by this maintenance program include all Pinellas County water customers as well as customers in the cities of Clearwater, Pinellas Park and Safety Harbor.

h. This method of water quality maintenance is effectively an alternative to flushing millions of gallons of drinking water.

i. Flushing volumes have decreased dramatically since 2012, with the twice-yearly maintenance conversion programs being a major contributing factor.



Water System Maintenance Program Frequently Asked Questions


What is the “Water System Maintenance Program?”

This program is a temporary conversion from chloramine to chlorine disinfection and is a routine maintenance measure designed to reduce the potential for occurrences of coliform or other types of bacteria in the water delivery system.


Why is the maintenance program being conducted?

This is a planned treatment designed to provide protection to our customers against potentially harmful bacteria in the water supply. Many utilities using chloramine disinfection find it helpful to switch periodically to a free chlorine treatment program to maintain water quality. Based on water quality monitoring and sampling data, Pinellas County will perform the water system maintenance program once or twice a year.


What other benefits does the maintenance program provide?

This method of water quality maintenance is an effective alternative to flushing millions of gallons of drinking water. As a result of enhanced water quality monitoring and flushing strategies, flushing volumes continue to be reduced.


Who will be affected?

The program will include all water customers of Pinellas County as well as customers in the cities of Clearwater, Pinellas Park and Safety Harbor. 


Will customers notice any changes in the water during the program? 

Pinellas County water customers may experience a slight difference in the taste and/or smell of the water during this temporary change in treatment. These are normal occurrences and carry no negative health effects for the general population. The impact to the customer will be similar to that experienced when a water main is replaced or other routine maintenance is performed on the water distribution system.


Can I drink the water during this maintenance program?

Yes. The water will continue to meet federal and state standards for safe drinking water during this period. Health concerns associated with disinfection byproducts—total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and haloacetic acids five (HAA5s) are related to long-term exposure and not short-term maintenance actions. Additional information can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, by visiting https://www.cdc.gov/ and the World Health Organization website, by visiting https://www.who.int/ 


Do I need to boil the water?

No, boiling the water is not necessary.


Will the program affect dialysis patients?

Users of kidney dialysis machines should not be impacted, but should contact their dialysis care provider for more information about water testing and precautions regarding chlorine removal. Chlorine, like chloramine, is fatal if it enters the bloodstream during the hemodialysis process. As a result, strict water purification standards are already followed by the kidney dialysis industry as established by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation.


Will the chlorine affect aquatic life?

The temporary change to chlorine should not affect fish owners if a system is already in place to remove chloramine. Those with questions should contact their local pet suppliers.


Why do we flush the water distribution system?

Having a written flushing plan is a regulatory requirement, however, Pinellas County Utilities has always employed flushing as one of the methods for keeping water quality at its best. Flushing the water mains improves water quality by removing sediment in the pipes and by eliminating stagnant water found in dead-end pipes in various locations throughout the system.


What if I have a water softener or any other type of water treatment device?

Residents with any type of water treatment devices should follow the manufacturer’s specifications.


When will the program be conducted?

The first maintenance program of 2020 took place from May 17 through June 5. The second maintenance program for 2020 is scheduled to take place from September 20 through October 9. If there are any changes in the duration, customers will be notified through a news release and on http://www.pinellascounty.org/utilities/ 


If I have questions, how can I find more information?

For more information, please visit http://www.pinellascounty.org/utilities/ or contact Pinellas County Utilities Customer Services at (727) 464-4000 or your water service provider.



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