Click here to go to the Home Page

January 7, 2003

M.U.D. to switch to chloramines January 21

M.U.D. plans to change its water disinfection process from chlorine to chloramines January 21. It may take a week to 10 days to reach everyone on their distribution system. The change will provide better-tasting water and position the District to meet future federal and state drinking water standards.

Chloramine, a combination of chlorine and ammonia, is used to kill potentially harmful bacteria in the water. Chloramine also prevents bacterial growth in the distribution system.

Estimated costs to use chloramine is $3.7 million for capital improvements and $200,000 per year for operation costs. However, no water rate increase is planned for 2003. The last water rate increase was in 2000.

Chloraminated water is safe for everyone to drink because the digestive process neutralizes chloramines before they reach the blood stream.

Fish and aquariums

Chloramine is toxic to fish, reptiles, turtles and amphibians because it passes through the gills of the fish and directly enters their bloodstream.

People with fish may begin to treat their aquarium water prior to January 21 by using products to neutralize chlorine and chloramines. These products are available at pet/fish supply stores.

Chloramine will not dissipate from boiling or holding water in open, standing containers. Carbon filters may not remove chloramine from the tap water added directly to your tank.

Even though untreated chloraminated water is toxic for fish in aquariums, it will not harm fish in rivers once the water flows into the sewer system as it is neutralized in the sewage before arriving at the wastewater treatment plant.

Dialysis centers

Dialysis systems pre-treat their source water to remove chlorine. Some modifications may be necessary to remove chloramines.

Medical centers that perform dialysis are responsible for treating the water that enters dialysis machines. We have notified metro area hospitals and dialysis centers about the water treatment change.

Home dialysis service companies usually make the modifications needed, however you should check with your equipment supplier and/or physician.


M.U.D. currently uses chlorine for both primary and secondary disinfection in the water treatment process. This guards against bacterial growth in the distribution system.

Like many other communities, the District experiences elevated levels of trihalomethanes (THMs) when using chlorine as a disinfectant.

THMs are a suspected carcinogen (cancer-causing agent), created in small amounts as a by-product when natural organics in water combine with chlorine.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lowered the standard to 80 parts per billion January 1, 2002, as the maximum level of THMs allowed in drinking water.

M.U.D.'s treated water averages 74 parts per billion. The District may exceed the new standard on occasion if only chlorine is used as a disinfectant. Chloramines will help insure M.U.D. will continue to surpass all federal and state standards for safe drinking water.

In 1999 the District hired a consultant to help find the best way to meet the new EPA standard. After a careful review of the consultant's recommendations, the Board of Directors authorized the use of chloramines on June 7, 2000. The chloramine option offered the highest probability for success at the lowest cost.

Chlorine will continue to be the primary disinfectant. Chloramines will be used for secondary disinfection.

Use of chloramines will enable us to continue providing water that is both safe to drink and aesthetically appealing. The EPA recommends chloramines as a disinfectant and as a way to avoid THM formation.

Approximately 20 percent of water supply systems in the U.S., including Council Bluffs and Lincoln, use chloramine as a disinfection agent.

M.U.D. provides water to more than 175,000 customers in Omaha, Bellevue, Bennington, Elkhorn, Ralston, LaVista, Waterloo, Carter Lake and the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, which supplies water to Fort Calhoun.

top | Home