Kentucky American Water will soon conduct its annual water system flushing program, which involves crews opening selected fire hydrants throughout the water distribution system and letting them flow for several minutes. This is an essential maintenance activity that assists in providing excellent quality water to customers because it helps remove natural sediment that can build up in water pipes over time.
Before, during, and, for a short period of time, after the hydrant flushing program, the company’s three water treatment plants will temporarily change the disinfectant used in the treatment process from chloramine to chlorine. Chloramine and chlorine are common disinfectants used in the water treatment process to remove microbial contaminants like bacteria and viruses from water.
Chloramine is a water disinfectant that is formed when ammonia is added in combination with chlorine. The temporary switch will involve turning off the ammonia feed to the plants. This is a common practice for water systems that normally use chloramine throughout the year. The amount of chlorine in the water will remain the same, but customers may notice a stronger taste or smell of chlorine in the water. This poses no health risk.
“We are proud of the excellent quality water we deliver around the clock to our customers,” said Dave Farrar, vice president of operations. “In addition to conducting proper infrastructure renewal, essential maintenance activities such as our hydrant flushing program and temporary change in disinfectant at our treatment facilities are key to providing our customers with high-quality drinking water.”
During the flushing activity, company employees will open selected fire hydrants in a coordinated fashion so that water can flow through the water mains and out of the hydrants for several minutes. As employees perform this work, we are reminding customers that for their safety and the safety of our employees that they follow social distancing recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and ask that customers not approach our employees when they are seen working in the field. Crews will de-chlorinate the water as it leaves hydrants in order to remove the disinfecting agent in the water – chlorine – so that any water that enters streams is not harmful to aquatic life.
Dialysis centers, medical facilities and aquatic pet owners should take precautions during the temporary switch from chloramine to chlorine. Most methods for removing chloramine from tap water are also effective for removing chlorine, but confirming that a method is effective for both is recommended.
To reduce a heightened smell or taste of chlorine in tap water, refrigerate cold tap water in an open pitcher. Within a few hours the chlorine taste or smell will disappear.
It’s possible that customers may experience a slight discoloration of their water when crews are working in their areas. Should a customer notice is colored water coming from the tap, they should simply run their cold water faucet – not hot water – until the water clears. The water remains safe to consume, but customers may want to avoid such activities as washing clothes when crews are flushing in their areas, since there is potential for discolored water that could stain clothing.
Treatment plants will temporarily switch disinfectant from chloramine to chlorine on Thursday, April 23. Chloramine disinfection will resume on Tuesday, May 26.
Flushing will occur over several weeks according to the following schedule unless operational adjustments are needed:
Millersburg: April 20 to April 24 (during daytime hours); not affected by disinfectant change
North Middletown: May 18 to May 29 (daytime hours)
Clark County: May 18 to May 29 (daytime hours)
Fayette County: April 27 to May 15 (late evening and early morning hours)
Owen County: April 27 to May 15 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m. & 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily)
Rockcastle County: April 20 to April 24 (daytime hours); not affected by disinfectant change
Scott County: May 11 to May 22 (daytime hours)
An online map is available for customers to determine when crews will be flushing in their respective areas: www.tinyurl.com/kawcflush. Customers with questions about the flushing program may also contact Customer Service at 1-800-678-6301.