January 28, 2022
FORT MYERS WILL SOON COMMENCE A TEMPORARY SWITCH TO LEE COUNTY DRINKING WATER SOURCE WHICH UTILIZES A DIFFERENT DISINFECTION PROCESS
Fort Myers, FL – The City of Fort Myers has finalized a water purchase agreement with Lee County, enabling the City to acquire up to 1.5 million gallons per day from the county for no more than 150 days. This measure will help alleviate water demands while the City continues to grow its water infrastructure through existing and upcoming projects.
The process of connecting to the Lee County water source will require multiple phases, as the municipalities do not currently utilize the same disinfectant. Lee County Utilities uses chloramines (which is a longer lasting disinfectant) for disinfection of drinking water, while the City of Fort Myers uses free chlorine (which is a stronger disinfectant). Both disinfectants are effective and adequate; however, should not be utilized at the same time. Therefore, it will be necessary to isolate and flush the existing system in order to receive the purchased water.
The first two phases of this change are expected to begin on January 31st, 2022; completion will take approximately 4 days.
The City of Fort Myers will conduct a flush of the affected distribution system, which will allow the chloramines to move quickly throughout the distribution system. It will also improve the overall quality of the water by flushing out any sediment that may have collected in the water mains. Water customers should be aware that they might experience short-term changes to their water quality during flushing, including cloudy or discolored water. While this water is safe to drink, it may stain clothes that are in the laundry. Customers are advised to flush any cloudy or discolored water that may enter their plumbing by running a faucet for several minutes.
What customers should expect:
- No adverse health effects;
- A possible change in the taste and odor of water associated with the chloramines;
- A possible change in color, discoloration, cloudiness and/or sediments in water while the flushing exercise takes place;
- Customers on dialysis who use a proportioning machine to prepare dialysate are advised to contact their physician to obtain the appropriate steps to accommodate the change in disinfectants. Providers of dialysis must do the same;
- Customers who have fish tanks or aquatic species are advised to contact a professional aquarist to avoid any problems associated with chloramines.
Please review our frequent asked questions below. You may also contact the City of Fort Myers Utilities with any questions Monday-Friday, 8 AM-5 PM: 239-321-7215.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is drinking water disinfection?
Disinfection inactivates disease-causing organisms in water. Disinfection uses either a chemical or physical process that kills microorganisms like bacteria, viruses and protozoa. Chemical disinfectants include chlorine, monochloramine and ozone. Ultraviolet light disinfection is a physical process. There are two types of disinfection, primary disinfection, and secondary disinfection.
Why is disinfection important?
Disinfection of drinking water is vital to protect public health from waterborne diseases. The practice of disinfecting drinking water has made many once-common diseases, like typhoid and cholera, a thing of the past in the United States, Canada and other developed countries. In fact, drinking water disinfection’s control of infectious diseases is considered one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th Century by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Will there be any noticeable changes to my water as you make the conversion?
Some temporary impacts may be noticed in isolated areas as the monochloramine-treated water is introduced into the distribution system. Some customers may notice a temporary variation in water color, as well as possible sediment in the water. These temporary impacts to water quality are similar to those experienced when a water main is replaced, or routine maintenance is performed on the water distribution system. As the system stabilizes, these temporary impacts will diminish.
What should I do if I notice sediment in my water?
The sediment may be the result of flushing the pipeline to purge the chlorinated water and make way for the new monochloramine-treated water. If you do experience some discoloration or sediment, try running cold water in your sink or bathtub for three to five minutes.
Is monochloramine safe?
US EPA states that research and experience to-date indicate monochloramine is safe and beneficial at levels typically used to treat drinking water. In fact, the World Health Organization and the US EPA consider monochloramine a safe, effective treatment method of reducing the potential health risk from regulated disinfection byproducts. The US EPA evaluated monochloramine safety and set the standard for monochloramine use at a level where no human health effects are expected to occur.
Can I drink and cook with monochloramine-treated water?
Yes. Monochloramine-treated water will meet or surpass all local, state, and federal guidelines for drinking water quality. You can safely drink the water, cook with it and bathe in it. However, like chlorine, monochloramine-treated water must be conditioned or filtered before using it for fish and other aquatic life, and dialysis centers must also take special precautions.
Is it safe to wash an open wound with monochloramine-treated water?
Yes. When cleaning an open would, virtually no water can enter the bloodstream.
What precautions must dialysis providers take?
Kidney dialysis patients can safely drink, cook, and bathe in water disinfected with monochloramine. The digestive process neutralizes monochloramine before it enters the bloodstream. But, like chlorine, monochloramine must be removed from water to be used in kidney dialysis machines. If you are a dialysis patient or have questions, call your physician or the dialysis center nearest you.
Is monochloramine safe for my salt and freshwater fish?
Chlorine and monochloramine are both toxic to fish and aquatic life. Monochloramine is harmful to fish and amphibians when it enters the bloodstream from water that passes through their gills. Therefore, like chlorine, monochloramine must be removed from water used for keeping live fish, amphibians, and other aquatic animals. This includes Koi fish, lobster, shrimp, frogs, turtles, snails, clams and live coral. To protect fish and amphibians, use treatment products to remove monochloramine from tap water. These products are readily available at most pet supply stores and aquarium dealers. Leaving water to sit for several days is not an effective method for removing monochloramine.
Is monochloramine-treated water safe for my dog, cat, ferret, monkey, parrot, parakeet, etc.
Will I have to change the way I treat my swimming pool water?
No additional treatment should be necessary. However, you might find that there is a slight increase in chlorine demand. That means that you may have to add a little more chlorine than usual to get to the level you typically maintain in the pool after you top it off with tap water.
Will my home filtration system be affected?
You may need to replace filters (particularly activated charcoal filters) more often than before, though the difference should be negligible. Be sure to follow manufacturer’s recommendations. Check with the manufacturer if you are interested in finding out if your granular activated filter removes chlorine and monochloramine.
Will my plants be affected?
No. Plants, vegetables, fruit and nut trees are not affected by monochloramine-treated water.
If I water the lawn, will the runoff harm the environment?
If you use tap water to water your lawn, the small amount of monochloramine in the water will be neutralized by the soil. Lawn watering is not expected to have an adverse effect on plants or nearby aquatic life.
Why can’t I let my tap water sit a few days to remove monochloramine?
That works with chlorine.
Monochloramine is longer lasting than chlorine and will not dissipate from tap water like chlorine. You must use drops, tablets or granular activated carbon filters that are specifically designed to remove monochloramine.
NOTE: This is not a comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions, rather a short guide to help customers gain a greater understanding of this specific initiative. To learn more about this topic, please visit www.awwa.org, www.epa.gov and www.floridahealth.gov.