Carrollton’s Temporary Water Disinfection Change

Residents of Isle of Wight County, including Carrollton, have recently encountered an unusual “swimming pool” odor and discoloration in their tap water. This phenomenon, which began surfacing in early March, is attributed to a temporary shift in water disinfection methods from chloramines to chlorine, as part of routine maintenance across several Virginia municipalities.

Understanding the Disinfection Switch

From March 8 to March 29, cities like Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Isle of Wight County have modified their drinking water disinfection process. This change, essential for maintaining the integrity of the water systems, involves using chlorine instead of the usual chloramine mixture. Chloramine, a compound of chlorine and ammonia, is typically favored for its ability to provide long-lasting disinfection with fewer byproducts. However, chlorine, despite being highly effective, can react with natural organic matter in the water, leading to the formation of disinfection byproducts and a notable chlorine smell.

The Western Tidewater Water Authority, a partnership between Isle of Wight and Suffolk, sources its water under the 2009 Norfolk Water Deal. This arrangement underscores a broader strategy to manage water resources sustainably, particularly given the region’s shift from chlorine to chloramine back in October 2000.

What Residents Should Know

Impact on the Community

The current disinfection change is most noticeable in Carrollton and the Benn’s Church area, with these locations experiencing the aforementioned water changes. Interestingly, Smithfield and Windsor, with their independent water systems and wells, remain unaffected by this temporary switch.

Health and Safety

For the majority of residents, the presence of chlorine in tap water, although perceptible by smell and sometimes sight, poses no health risk. The chlorine concentration is maintained within a safe range of 2.5 to 3 parts per million. Nevertheless, specific precautions are advised for individuals with sensitive needs:

  • Aquatic Pets: Chlorine and chloramine can harm fish, reptiles, and amphibians. It’s recommended to use specialized filters or treatments available at aquarium stores to neutralize these chemicals.
  • Kidney Dialysis: Patients undergoing dialysis should consult their healthcare providers, as treatment centers are equipped to remove these disinfectants from water before use.

Addressing the Chlorine Smell and Discoloration

Residents noticing a strong chlorine odor or discoloration in their water can alleviate these issues by letting the water sit out for a few days or employing carbon filters to remove the chlorine.

Long-term Considerations

The Norfolk Water Deal, committing Isle of Wight to incrementally increase its water purchases from Norfolk, reflects a strategic move to reduce dependency on groundwater. This is in response to concerns from Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality about unsustainable groundwater demand levels.

This temporary change in water treatment practices highlights the complex balance between maintaining water system integrity and ensuring public health and safety. As Isle of Wight County navigates through this maintenance period, residents are reminded of the importance of understanding and adapting to these temporary measures.




The Role of Water Treatment Solutions

In communities like Smithfield, where water is sourced from wells, reverse osmosis water treatment plays a crucial role in ensuring the purity and safety of drinking water. Additionally, whole-home water conditioners can significantly enhance water quality by removing unwanted minerals and contaminants, offering a comprehensive solution for households seeking the highest water quality standards.