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Reminder: Brick’s Water May Temporarily Have Chlorine Taste During Flushing

A kitchen sink in Brick, N.J. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

A kitchen sink in Brick, N.J. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

(Editor’s note: This story originally ran Sept. 23, but is being republished Oct. 13 due to the timeliness of the topic.)

Brick Township’s water may have a hint of a chlorine taste for several weeks as the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority flushes its system and temporarily switches its disinfectant.

The BTMUA, like most of America’s water utilities, uses chloramine to treat its water supply and ensure it is safe for customers to drink. But starting Oct. 14, the utility will switch from chloramine to “free chlorine” in order to disinfect the entire system, said Joseph Maggio, Director of Water Quality for the BTMUA.

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“The water quality through the pipes will not change,” Maggio said, but a chlorine taste will likely be more prominent for about five weeks as the flushing of the township’s water system is completed.

Water utilities periodically – usually once a year – switch to free chlorine from chloramine to eliminate what is known as biofilm from city water pipes. Biofilm, a biological film that can collect inside pipes, can sometimes become accustomed to the chloramine, rendering it ineffective. The temporary switch to free chlorine has a shocking effect on the biofilm and clears the system while it is being flushed using fire hydrants.

“If people taste something different in their water, they normally and naturally think something bad is happening, but that is not what is happening here,” said Maggio, who added the BTMUA will use radio advertisements and other notices to keep residents informed.

Once the flushing begins on Oct. 14, customers will likely notice the chlorine taste within a few days, Maggio said. As usual with flushing, there may be some temporary discoloration with tap water as well.

The chlorine issue applies to mainland residents of Brick Township. The township’s barrier island portion receives only its sewerage services from the BTMUA, while its water is supplied by New Jersey American Water.