Princeton and other area residents who may have noticed changes in the taste of their tap water recently should not worry. Any chlorine taste reflects a switch made at the end of January from one chlorine additive to another and is part of New Jersey American Water’s annual pipeline maintenance program.
According to a statement from New Jersey American Water (NJAW), “free chlorine” was added to replace chloramine, a combination of ammonia and chlorine, at the Raritan-Millstone and Canal Road surface water treatment plants. Both methods of disinfection are approved by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection.
“Free chlorine” refers to both hypochlorous acid (HOCl) and the hypochlorite (OClР) ion or bleach, and is commonly added to water systems for disinfection purposes.
The change began in late January and is expected to last through March.
“The free chlorine helps to take away some of the byproducts of the chloramines disinfectant,” said Richard G. Barnes, external affairs manager. The process is expected to take about two months.
In addition to Princeton, Kingston, Lawrence, Montgomery, and Plainsboro, the change has affected numerous municipalities throughout the area: from Bedminster to Cranbury, Flemington to Millstone, and Somerville to South Brunswick.
According to the water company it’s not unusual for customers to notice an increase in the taste and smell of chlorine in their water at such times. Water quality will be monitored “to ensure that it meets or exceeds federal and state drinking water standards.”
“When we transition the disinfection process from chloramines to chlorine, some customers may notice an increase in the taste and smell of chlorine in the water. This will only be temporary while we complete this annual system maintenance. The water is safe to drink,” states NJAW.
The annual change in disinfectant is a standard water treatment practice. “We perform this distribution system maintenance program every year as an added measure to further disinfect the pipelines in our distribution system. It also allows us to perform necessary maintenance on our chemical feed systems.”
If chlorine is not to your taste, the company makes several suggestions to remove it, such as placing water in an uncovered glass container in the refrigerator overnight, so as to allow the chlorine to dissipate. Another technique is to boil your water. A rolling boil for five minutes is recommended. If the water is then cooled, it should no longer taste or smell of chlorine. Adding a lemon slice or a few drops of lemon juice to a glass of drinking water, is another suggestion from the company.
In March, NJAW will change back back to chloramines. For updates and more information, visit: www.amwater.com/alerts/alert.