By CRISTIN REECE
The second of two water distribution burnouts is on the calendar, Palestine city officials reported this week.
City Utilities Director Robert Sedgwick told the Palestine City Council earlier this week, the water department’s first water distribution burnout, implemented in January, was a success and he’d like to repeat the process again in August.
According to city officials, a distribution system burnout is accomplished by eliminating the ammonia from regular treatment. Turning the ammonia off produces a free chlorine residual 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 is also 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 said. “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.
Initial test results and reports indicate the first burnout process was successful.
Sedgwick said Thursday TCEQ officials have extended an invitation to Palestine’s Utilities Department officials to discuss the process with other cities during an upcoming school.
“A lot of cities are afraid to try this for upsetting the customers,” he said. “I was quite surprised we had so few complaints. 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.
Sedgwick told council members on Monday he’d like to see the city subscribe to a twice-a-year schedule.
The next burnout is scheduled to begin Friday, Aug. 8, and would conclude on Aug. 31. Residents may experience possible chlorine smell and red water – most likely during the first week of the process.
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 in the City Hall Complex, 310 Debard St.
According to the city’s website, Palestine’s Utilities Department is comprised of Water Treatment, Wastewater Treatment, Water Distribution, Wastewater Collection, Compliance Monitoring, and Engineering.
The Water Distribution Department services an estimated 275 miles of water lines. The Compliance Monitoring Department is responsible for the testing of drinking water for human consumption and the pretreatment of water from major contributors with guidelines for sampling, testing, and reporting criteria.
Monthly discharge reports show information for daily, weekly, and monthly testing and are generated from the department to satisfy requirements by the state of Texas and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).