By CRISTIN REECE
Palestine residents may notice their drinking water may emit a funny odor or take on a funny color this month.
City officials said there’s no cause for alarm — those are the potential symptoms of the city water utility department’s second scheduled water distribution system burnout, set to begin Thursday and last through the end of the month.
“Residents may experience possible chlorine smell and red water – most likely during the first week of the process,” City Utilities Director Robert Sedgwick said. “If any Palestine water customers experience red water, they may pick up a product called Red-Be-Gone for free at the Public Works Utilities office.”
The Public Works office is located in the City Hall complex, located at 310 Debard St.
A distribution system burnout simply eliminates the ammonia from regular treatment — leaving only chlorine in the treatment — which effectively kills any bacterial growth that could be living within the distribution system. Such build up could cause taste, odor and discoloration in the city’s drinking water. The process also is needed to remove lingering ammonia residue from the water.
“We normally use a chlorine-ammonia mix, which makes (the chemicals) more stable and lasts longer,” Sedgwick told Palestine City Council members during a July meeting. “During a burnout, we only use chlorine, which is just as effective and not as long-lasting. The water will be still just as safe for consumption during a burnout as it is during regular treatment.”
The procedure was recommended by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to help the city achieve and maintain the state-mandated chemical and bacterial levels in its drinking water, which the city has historically had trouble with, despite utilizing a flushing program to help combat the problem. The first system burnout was applied in January.
“A lot of cities are afraid to try this for upsetting the customers,” Sedgwick said. “I was quite surprised we had so few complaints (during the first burnout). We did have a few, but not nearly as many as anticipated. I don’t anticipate a lot of problems this second time.”
Sedgwick said most of the complaints his staff did receive pertained to a chlorine smell in the water.