SAN ANGELO, Texas – June 1 though July 1, San Angelo residents may notice a strong smell and taste of chlorine from their tap water. Additionally, there will be several instances of hydrant flushing across the city. “Customers will see increased fire hydrant flushing,” explained Allison Strube, Director of Water Utilities for the City of San Angelo. “Sometimes our crews are flushing out areas on the north side and on the outskirts of town, so we may be opening up hydrants and then go onto the next one. Sometimes you will see hydrants being unattended.”
This is all due to the annual system shock, where the city temporarily changes their method of disinfecting water to clear out any biological build-up from the past year, due to the organics found in our surface water sources. “We’re going to be changing our method of disinfection from chloramines to free chlorine,” said Water Treatment Plant Operations Manager Tymm Combest. “To do that, basically we shut the ammonia off because chloramines is a mixture of chlorine and ammonia. So we’ll turn the ammonia off, and then over about a two day period the water in the distribution system will convert over to free chlorine.” Chloramines form when ammonia and chlorine bond, “free chlorine” simply means chlorine by itself.
Some may wonder how the national shortage of chlorine is impacting the city, and the answer is, not much. “We have seen some increases in the price of our chlorine,” said Strube. “But we did bid that out prior to these price escalations. So we have escalation clauses in that contract that only allow a certain percentage to be increased.”
Strube did confirm that the contract between the city and their vendor caps the price of chlorine at 4% above the original price. We were able to speak with some city staff who called the clause a “saving grace” for the city.