It's Spring! Time for Another Flush
April 10, 2019
Franklin County Rural Water District #1 purchases water for our customers from the City of Ottawa, the City of Wellsville, and Miami County Rural Water District #2.
This month Miami County RWD #2 has begun their spring "free burn." This is a month long period when Free Chlorine, as opposed to Combined Chlorine, is used throughout the distribution system as a powerful disinfectant. This is done as a preventative measure to keep our water system clean so we can provide the best water for our customers' use. You may notice a stronger than usual chlorine taste and smell to the water. This is only temporary and it is necessary to "burn out" the system and kill certain "nitrifying" bacteria that do not show up on the routine sampling. These bacteria are not harmful to humans or animals. They tend to cause slime growths within the waterlines and create a higher than normal demand on chlorine, thus lowering disinfection properties.
The chlorine taste may linger after the free chlorine has been discontinued. In some cases, there may be some natural soluble iron and manganese present in the waterlines. Free chlorine may further oxidize these substances.
Our operator will be doing additional line flushing during this period. This can result in periods of low water pressure.
A brief explanation of the difference in chlorine types follows:
Chlorine, by nature, is very reactive. In its Free Chlorine form it is rapidly searching for any other material to react with to form a new compound. This being the case, when Free Chlorine comes in contact with a biological form such as a bacteria, it quickly reacts with it. This reaction almost always results in the death of the bacteria, which we commonly refer to as disinfection. If there is no bacteria to react with, the Free Chlorine will attack other materials, such as copper pipes, to leach out the elements it needs to become less volatile. Since Free Chlorine is so volatile, it lacks the ability to remain in the water for very long. So, although it is a very good disinfectant, its life span in the water distribution system is short lived and if used incorrectly can lead to negative impacts on pipeworks.
Combined Chlorine is Free Chlorine that is in the water that has been bound to another material. In the water industry it is commonly bound to nitrogen in the form of ammonia before being distributed throughout the system. Water production plants will use Free Chlorine to disinfect the water within their facility, and then distribute the water to customers and water towers with Combined Chlorine to ensure that the Chlorien can stay in the water for a prolonged period of time to prevent any future bacterial growth within the system. So although Combined Chlorine is less volatile, it is able to remain as a preventative measure for a much longer time.
When the two are used in unison, they make for a very clean and safe drinking water system.
If you have any questions regarding the burnout, please do not hesitate to contact our office.