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Water Quality Preventive Maintenance Program FAQs

Water Quality Preventive Maintenance Program FAQs

The region’s water providers - Union County Public Works, Anson County Public Works, Lancaster County Water and Sewer District, and Monroe Water and Sewer - are committed to providing safe and reliable water to our residents and businesses. As part of our continuing effort to supply you with clean drinking water, we are joining together to conduct an annual Water Quality Maintenance Program.

The program will use a maintenance process that is recommended by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ), and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

This program temporarily switches our water disinfectants from chloramines to chlorine for one month to help maintain the system and provide the highest quality water year-round.

Why are we temporarily switching from chloramines to free chlorine?

As a maintenance activity to optimize the water quality of the distribution system, the water plant will switch to free chlorine for disinfection for a period of about one month, or until the distribution system has been completely flushed. This maintenance accomplishes the following:

  • Remove any biofilm and bacteria from the water distribution system pipes;
  • Reduce the formation of nitrates and nitrites (nitrification);
  • Reduce taste and odor complaints;
  • This maintenance process is recommended by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ).

After distribution system flushing is completed, the water plant will resume utilizing chloramines.

How long will the maintenance program take to complete?

This routine maintenance is performed every 1-2 years for a month at a time.

During this maintenance process, is the water safe to drink and use?

Yes. Your water is safe to drink and use as always. The water being produced and distributed to customers during this period will continue to meet Federal and State water quality standards and is completely safe for consumption and use.

Although most customers will not notice any difference in their water, water users who meet the following criteria are advised to seek professional advice regarding the change in water disinfection during this routine maintenance:

  1. Kidney dialysis providers/patients
  2. Fish, pond, pool and aquarium owners/operators
  3. Businesses that use water in their production process

What effects may customers observe during this maintenance/flushing process?

Some customers may notice the following during this routine maintenance period:

  • A slight discoloration or cloudiness in the water;
  • A slight chlorine odor or taste;
  • Minor fluctuations in water pressures while flushing is occurring;
  • Minor discoloration in the water due to flushing the system;
  • Utility crews operating fire hydrants to flush the system.

Most customers may not notice any change in the water.

What should customers do if they experience any discoloration or odor?

If the water is discolored or cloudy, flush the water through an outside spigot or tub faucet for a few minutes to clear. By running the water through a spigot or tub faucet, the problem clears faster. It will not clog faucet strainers.

Why not stay with free chlorine as a treatment process?

While chlorine is a stronger disinfectant, chloramines are a better long-term treatment option because chlorine does not last as long in our region’s systems. Chloramines provide long-lasting disinfection benefits with minimal disinfection by-products. It is also more stable in our water distribution systems and it improves odor and taste.

Why is this maintenance activity and flushing being performed now?

It is ideal that this maintenance activity be performed in the spring or fall of the year, when usage is low.