Ketchikan Public Utilities Water Division started its new water disinfection system Monday night. Water Division Manager John Kleinegger said ammonia was added to the entry point of the 3-million-gallon Bear Valley Reservoir, and the newly treated water has been making its way through.
Kleinegger said they took samples for testing, and he has tasted it, as well.
“I’m certainly pleased to say that the water, to me at least, tastes just about the same as it always has,” he said.
He said chloramine-treated water will first show up in the Bear Valley area, and then will move down Schoenbar Road toward downtown and Tongass Avenue. Some neighborhoods, such as those above Baranof in the Carlanna area, won’t get chloramine-treated water until later in the week, because of the time it takes for water to move through the system.
KPU crews will be flushing water mains to speed up that process. Kleinegger encourages residents to flush their own pipes, as well.
That would be wise,” he said. “Probably the best valve to flush out a person’s service line would be to open the cold-water line on their bathtub.”
He said there can be a stronger chlorine smell when chloraminated water contacts water that has been treated with only chlorine. But, Kleinegger said he hasn’t noticed that.
“Thus far, at least, the water that I’m drinking right now really has no discernable difference,” he said. “I’m very pleased about that.”
Chloramine is a combination of chlorine and a small amount of ammonia. The city has used chlorine alone as the primary disinfectant, but because of high levels of regulated byproducts in Ketchikan’s water, the federal Environmental Protection Agency required the city to make some kind of change.
The city chose chloramine, and has been working toward the new system for about a decade.
There is a citizen effort under way to place a ballot question in front of voters, asking them to prohibit the city from using chloramine. The completed petition is still under review by city officials.