Salado Water Supply Corporation will conduct its next board meeting at the Salado Civic Center at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 25, where they will address the concerns of several residents in the northwest service area who have complained about rashes and other reactions to the water since the provider switched over to chloramine to disinfect the water in July.
One resident reported to Salado Village Voice that he immediately broke out into a rash after showering in the chloramine-treated water.
“I hadn’t paid that much attention to the details of the change-over of the water supply – although I thought it fairly odd that you would be reaching way out to Kempner for water when there are other much closer sources. I just figured that you knew what you were doing, although the reasons behind the switch were fairly vague,” Ben Liles, Jr. stated in a letter that he sent to Salado WSC.
“The first time I paid any attention was when I took a shower on Monday morning and wondered where the very offensive smell was coming from. It wasn’t long in determining that water from the faucet was the culprit as I shaved.
Then about two hours later, I noticed a rash appearing on my arms and legs, a rash I have never had before and couldn’t imagine where it came from,” he added.
The next morning – Tuesday – the smell from the tap water was as strong as the day before and during the day the rash on my arms and legs grew even worse. That was when I got out the most recent note from you and discovered that the change-over to the Kempner water took place on July 11, instead of July 15. The coincidence was too strong to ignore.”
Salado WSC informed users that on June 15 it would be changing the disinfectant that it uses from chlorine to chloramine.
“This change is intended to benefit our customers by reducing the levels of disinfection byproducts in the system, while still providing protection from waterborne disease,” Salado WSC manager Ricky Preston stated in a May 6 letter to customers.
“The change to chloramines can cause problems to persons dependent on dialysis machines,” Preston further stated.
The Environmental Protection Agency states on its website that, “Using chloramine to disinfect drinking water is a common standard practice among drinking water utilities. A number of utilities have made this switch from chlorine to chloramines to enhance water safety and compliance with drinking water health standards.”
“Chloramines are produced by combining chlorine and ammonia,” the EPA further states. “While obviously toxic at high levels, neither pose health concerns to humans at the levels used for drinking water disinfection.”
“Because the chloramine residual is more stable and longer lasting than free chlorine, it provides better protection against bacterial regrowth in systems with large storage tanks and dead-end water mains,’ the EPA states.
“Chloramine, like chlorine, is effective in controlling biofilm, which is a slime coating in the pipe caused by bacteria,” according to the EPA. “Controlling biofilms also tends to reduce coliform bacteria concentrations and biofilm-induced corrosion of pipes.”
While no studies of chloramine have shown negative impacts to healthy individuals, there is anecdotal evidence that the chemical may contribute to skin rashes, digestive and intestinal troubles.
Salado resident Mary Kelch reported to Salado Village Voice that she noticed “that my skin was breaking out in rashes. Mostly my face felt extremely windburned and chapped, although I do not typically spend time in the sun. Nothing in my skin regimen changed… My eyes burn horribly for several hours after showering.”
Kelch equates the feeling to swimming in a highly-chlorinated pool.
“The water has a completely different smell,” Kelch added. “We have had some days with discolored water. Since before July 15, I had no problem with the water.”
“The water smells strongly of chemicals,” she added. “No amount of setting it out or boiling it changes this.”