An East Texas town is starting a "water burnout" Thursday, aiming to clean its water distribution system. This comes after a study by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which found Palestine's water was not maintaining the required chemical balance throughout its entire system. This burnout will be the second of the year--following one in January--and hopes to clean all the bacteria out of the water supply.
"If this one doesn't go quite as well as the other one, we'll drop back to once a year, but it's to help with the water quality," said City of Palestine Utilities Director Robert Sedgwick.
Palestine's problem is that chlorine levels are below requirements in outlying parts of the system.
"It has to do with the age of the system," Sedgwick said. "It also has to do with heat in the summertime in particular. The water sits in storage tanks and it starts losing some of the chlorine."
Beginning Thursday at midnight, the city of Palestine is going to shut off the supply of ammonia to the water system. City officials said it will take three to four days for residents to notice a difference, but the main consequence will be a mild chlorine smell and a slightly different water taste. Officials said even though the water may smell or taste differently, it is still safe to drink.
Another year-round possibility in the water supply is red water coming out of the faucet. Segwick said it is a relatively rare occurrence and typically happens during water main breaks or water flow shifts due to the aging system, which dates to the 1860s.
"Sometimes the iron bacteria that goes inside those pipes breaks loose and that causes red water," he said. "It only seems like it happens when someone is doing their laundry."
If that situation arises for residents, the city offers a stain remover free of charge at the public works office.
Lifelong Palestine resident Marilan Tippen said she thinks the burnout works.
"Before it was dirty looking and it had an odor," she said. "After the burnout it was clear, you could see through it and hold it in a glass. I was glad!"
But Mary Hartmann was more skeptical.
"I still use bottled water," Hartmann said. "I just don't trust it. If I started hearing more people say, hey it tastes better, than I'd be all for it."
Palestine water crews will be conducting the burnout through August 31.
Tuesday, August 26 2014 5:57 AM EDT2014-08-26 09:57:06 GMT
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