Frequently Asked Questions About Chloramines

Why does Pinellas County use chloramines?

Tampa Bay Water altered our water supply to include groundwater, surface water and desalinated water. It also changed its potable (drinking) water disinfectant to chloramines.

Chloramine disinfection is a way to comply with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Safe Drinking Water Act. Using chloramines reduce regulated cancer-causing compounds, such as trihalomethanes, which occur when chlorine and organics in surface water are combined.

Which customers are affected by chloramine disinfection?

All Pinellas County Utilities retail water customers and water customers in the cities of Clearwater, Pinellas Park and Safety Harbor.

Are chloramines new?

No. Many cities in the United States and Canada have used chloramines for decades.

Are chloramines safe?

Yes. It is accepted as a disinfectant by EPA and as a way to avoid carcinogens in the trihalomethane family of compounds from forming.

Chloraminated water is safe for bathing, drinking, cooking and all drinking water uses. Kidney dialysis patients and fish owners should use special care when using chloraminated water in dialysis machines and fish tanks.

What special precautions should kidney dialysis patients take?

Kidney dialysis patients can drink, cook and bathe in chloraminated water. However, chloramines must be removed from the water used in kidney dialysis machines.

Dialysis systems already pre-treat their source water to remove chlorine, but some modifications may be needed to remove the chloramines. Home dialysis service companies can usually make these modifications, but you should check with your physician to be certain.

Medical facilities that perform kidney dialysis are responsible for purifying the water that enters the dialysis machines, according to federal regulations for End-Stage Renal Disease facilities.

What special precautions should fish owners take?

Chloramines must be removed from any water for fish tanks or ponds. Chloramines are toxic to saltwater and freshwater fish, reptiles that live in water, turtles and amphibians. This includes lobster tanks at grocery stores and restaurants, as well as fish containers at bait shops.

You may not have had to remove chlorine from your aquarium water because it evaporates quickly on its own. This is not the case with chloramines. Chloramines can be removed by using a water conditioner specifically designed to remove chloramines or by using a granular activated carbon filter. Your pet supplier should be able to provide more information.

Ammonia can be toxic to fish and although they produce some ammonia as a natural by-product, ammonia is released when chloramines are chemically removed. Some ammonia levels may be tolerable in individual tanks or ponds for short periods of time. Commercial products are available at pet supply stores to remove excess ammonia. Biological filters, natural zeolites and pH control methods are also effective in reducing the toxic effects of ammonia. View more information on fish aquarium care here.

If chloramines are harmful to fish, how can people safely drink the water?

Chloraminated water is no different than chlorinated water for all of the normal uses we have for potable water, including drinking. The digestive process neutralizes the chloramines before they reach the bloodstream. Fish absorb chloramines directly into their bloodstreams through their gills, which can be fatal.

Can pregnant women and children drink chloraminated water?

Yes. Anyone can drink water containing chloramines.

Can I safely wash an open wound with chloraminated water?

Yes. Virtually no water actually enters the bloodstream through an open wound.

Can I safely water plants, vegetables or fruit and nut trees?

Yes. The small amount of chloramines in the water supply will not affect plants.

Will chloramines affect my swimming pool?

No. You will still need a free chlorine residual to keep algae and bacteria growth at bay. Contact your local pool supply stores for more information.

Will chloramines change the pH of the water?

No. The pH of Pinellas County Utilities water will remain between pH 7.7 to 7.8.

Will chloramines dissipate or evaporate out of the water?

No. Unlike chlorine, which evaporates when water sits for a few days, chloramines may take weeks to disappear.

Do home water purifiers remove chloramines?

Most home purifiers are not designed to remove chloramines. Consult your manufacturer for specific information. NOTE: High-quality granular activated carbon filters may remove chloramines, provided enough contact time is allowed.

Does chloraminated water used for agricultural purposes affect fish in adjacent streams?

Most water that runs into streams and ponds would be agricultural, landscaping or storm water drainage. It probably would not have enough residual chloramine to affect fish after one use.

What can be expected during the annual disinfectant conversion from chloramines to chlorine?

You may experience a different taste or odor to the water, some discoloration or sedimentation temporarily. Running the water for 2 to 3 minutes before use is recommended.

Where can I get more information?

If you have any questions about this water treatment process or our water quality control program, call Customer Services at (727) 464-4000 or visit the Tampa Bay Water website.