A noticeable difference in chlorine levels in the water around campus is the direct result of routine annual water maintenance by The North Texas Municipal Water District, which will last until April 10.
Hunter Stephens, the assistant director of public services for the City of Richardson, said the chlorine is there to ensure if impurities enter the water system they are eliminated. They perform a free chlorine flush of the system every year and the process usually lasts about 30 days.
“The chlorine is only there as a secondary disinfectant,” Stephens said. “The water is already disinfected when it leaves the plant, but the chlorine offers another layer of protection. If organics or any sort of virus or disease is introduced into the water, (the chlorine) would kill that and wouldn’t let it proliferate or grow in our systems.”
The month of maintenance ensures the chemical completely reaches the end of the system before the switch back to the regular ratio, which relies on chloramine.
“Chloramine uses ammonia to react and create the secondary disinfectant, free chlorine does not,” Stephens said. “They are kind of resetting the system and getting ready for the summer months. It makes the chloramine usage through the summer more effective by doing this maintenance.”
Students began to notice the effects about a week after maintenance began, and will continue to notice them for up to a week after it ends. To address these concerns, management at Northside sent an email to its residents to alleviate any reservations regarding the water. The email said that despite the odor and strange taste, the water will not harm anyone.
The city will flush the lines after April 10 to try and push out the higher chlorine water faster, resulting in the level returning to its standard chemical make-up.
“What the public is expressing interest about is the change in disinfectant that is used,” Stephens said. “There is no health concern, and it is still good to drink.”
Students, such as ATEC freshman Christian Webster, said the foul smell and taste is difficult to ignore.
“I live in the residence halls, so the quality of the water is very important to me,” Webster said. “Even when I use the sink or shower, I immediately smell the chlorine.”
Despite the confirmation that the water is consumable and will not harm anyone who comes in contact with it, Webster said he is sensitive to the chlorine.
“I noticed that the smell was very strong when I came back from spring break, and it felt like I was drinking pool water,” Webster said. “Even though they say it’s safe, I’m not drinking it with that amount of chlorine.”
Even though some students have expressed their concern and are skeptical of the overall water quality, the City of Richardson informed UTD that the maintenance is necessary to maintain health code standards and is tested every day.