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March 30, 2009

City of Houston Department of Public Works and Engineering Public Utility Division performs Water Quality Maintenance Flushing

The City of Houston Department of Public Works and Engineering Public Utilities Division Drinking Water Operations Branch will temporarily modify the disinfection process used in some areas served by our Southeast Water Purification Plant.

Typically, chlorine in combination with ammonia (chloramination) is used for water system disinfection. For the entire month of April 2009, the City of Houston will be using chlorine without the ammonia. This method of free chlorine disinfection will provide greater protection of our finished water quality. The areas served by this plant include the zip codes: 77034, 77058, 77059, 77062, 77075, 77089, 77504, 77546, and 77598.

This temporary change in our treatment process is performed in accordance with State and Federal drinking water regulations.  The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which regulates water quality, has approved this method for routine maintenance of potable water distribution systems.

Customers may notice a slight chlorine taste or odor in the tap water for a short period during the change.  The water will remain safe to drink, to use for cooking, to bathe in, and for other everyday uses. During this period, we will sample and test our water to monitor the effectiveness of the temporary modification. Once the disinfection process is complete we will return to the Chloramination of water.

However, users of home kidney dialysis machines, owners of tropical fish aquariums, and managers of stores and restaurants with fish and shellfish holding tanks are advised that the methods for testing and removing free chlorine residuals differ from those used for chloramine residuals.

Both types of residuals may adversely affect users of kidney dialysis machines and may be toxic to fish and aquatic animals if not treated properly.  We encourage customers who may be affected by this change to seek advice from professionals.

If you have substantial water quality problems, please report it for rapid response by calling 311.