The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

January 12, 2013

City of Palestine begins water system burnout

Palestine Herald-Press

PALESTINE — The City of Palestine’s utilities department conducted its first-ever water system burnout on Friday — a process needed to kill bacterial growth in the distribution system that is causing taste, odor and color issues.

During a presentation to the Palestine City Council in December, city utilities director Robert Sedgwick reported the burnout details to council, explaining that it was a “necessary action for removing the ammonia residual from the water.

“Residents may experience possible chlorine smell and red water, especially in areas that use cast iron water pipes,” Sedgwick said. “The ammonia will be turned off and then turned back on in three weeks, and residents may experience the effects for approximately one week.”

The burnout is a suggestion of the local Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Regional office because of the city’s struggles with maintaining its chlorine residuals, especially in the summer months.

A distribution burnout is accomplished by turning the ammonia off at the treatment plant. By doing this, a free chlorine residual is produced, which is much stronger than the combined chlorine residual the city’s system normally has.

“This process will kill the bacterial growth in the distribution system,” Sedgwick explained.

According to reports, the City of Palestine has struggled to maintain the required .5 parts per million chlorine residual.

“After checking with other cities that undergo the same process,” Sedgwick said, “we have found that conducting a routine free chlorine burnout every six months may be the best way to ensure a safe drinking water supply for the citizens.”

Citizens, media outlets and the TCEQ will be notified about the burnout as required by law. The process is safe and does not prohibit use of water by residents.

Residents who experience red water may pick up a product called Red-Be-Gone for free at the Public Works Utilities Office, located at 310 Debard St. in the Palestine City Hall Complex.

Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at