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Temporary Disinfectant Switch Frequently Asked Questions

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The temporary change in water treatment will be effective May 20, 2020, through June 17, 2020.

Why is Melbourne temporarily switching its disinfection method?

Changing the disinfectant method to free chlorine periodically provides additional protection against microorganism contamination and helps ensure the water you receive remains safe.

Do other local utilities that typically disinfect water with chloramine periodically use free chlorine for disinfection?

Temporary and periodic switches in disinfectant are a well-known industry standard, particularly for utilities in warm climates such as Florida.

Who is affected by the temporary switch in disinfectant? 

  • Fish, amphibian, and reptile owners
  • Dialysis patients

What actions do I need to take to prepare for the temporary switch in disinfectant?

Only fish, amphibian and reptile owners, as well as dialysis patients, need to take special precautions. For all other users, there are no precautions that you need to take.  However, if you are sensitive to the taste or smell of chlorine, you can collect water in a container and place it in your refrigerator for a few hours. This will allow for much of the chlorine to leave the water.  

How can I remove chlorine from drinking water?

Boiling water will remove chlorine, as will allowing chlorinated water to stand in an open container for a few hours.

What is chloramine?

Chloramine is the normal disinfectant used to treat Melbourne’s water. It is a combination of chlorine and ammonia that is added in very small amounts to treated water to provide continuous disinfection in the pipes and tanks that distribute drinking water.

Special Notice:  Fish, Amphibians, & Reptiles

Why are chlorine and chloramine harmful to fish, amphibians, and reptiles?

Chlorine and chloramines are toxic to fresh and saltwater fish, amphibians, and reptiles.  Both chlorine and chloramines pass through the gills into the bloodstream inhibiting the red blood cells’ ability to carry oxygen.  Chlorinated and chloraminated water is safe for people and animals that do not live in water.

How can I make water safe for fish, amphibians, and reptiles?

Two methods are typically used. Either method will work:

  • Drops or tablets that remove both chlorine and ammonia (available at pet stores)
  • Biological filter (for ammonia removal) and chemical agent (for chlorine removal)

What tests will determine if the water is safe for aquatic animals?

Test kits are available to test for chlorine and chloramine.  A separate test for ammonia is also required and two methods are commonly used:

  • Freshwater Ammonia-Nessler Reagent
  • Freshwater or Saltwater Ammonia-Salicylate Reagent

For more information contact your aquarium supply or pet supply store.

Information for Dialysis Patients and Facilities

How will chlorine and chloramine affect dialysis patients and facilities?

Like chlorine, chloramine can harm kidney dialysis patients during the dialysis process if not removed from water before entering the blood stream.  Dialysis industry standards require that a trained nurse, technician, or caregiver test for both chlorine and chloramine to ensure both have been removed from the water before use in a dialysis machine.  Chlorine and chloramine are both safe for dialysis patients to drink, cook with, and bathe in because the digestive system neutralizes both chlorine and chloramine before it enters the blood stream.

What methods are used to remove chlorine and chloramine from water before dialysis?

Two methods are typically used:

  • Ascorbic acid 
  • Granular activated carbon filtration systems designed specifically for chlorine and chloramine removal

For more information contact your dialysis provider, physician, or the Brevard County Health Department at 321-726-2913.