St. Johns residents complain water has zero chlorine, JEA responds

A neighborhood in St. Johns County is wondering why their water is testing negative for chlorine, a chemical used to clean water and provide other benefits in the right amount.

It's easy to take for granted all that goes into drinking water to keep it safe. Most wouldn't ask if there was enough chlorine in their water. In fact, representatives at JEA say they more often get complaints that there is too much chlorine in drinking water. 

Despite the unpleasant smell or taste at times, chlorine kills pathogenic microorganisms that could be harmful to humans. 

That's why when Donna Cicolini's water treatment company told her there were zero traces of chlorine in her water, she couldn't ignore it. 

"It was a fluke that I noticed it ... I have fish tanks and that's what got me to start testing because before I change the water in the fish tanks I needed to know if I had any chlorine going through," Cicolini said. "I have no idea how long it has been going on, I just have to hope it only happened because of the storm." 

She said a local pool company and pet store tested water samples she brought from her outdoor hose faucet. All the tests were negative for chlorine. JEA technicians came out to test her water twice, initially finding her levels were normal. First Coast News contacted JEA on Wednesday about the discrepancy in readings.

On Thursday, according to a JEA service ticket, a third technician tested the home and outside meter and confirmed there was no chlorine in the water. 

It took a 30-minute fire hydrant flush of the system to get positive tests.

Gerri Boyce, JEA media relations manager, said there are several possible explanations for the flatline results.   

"If you live closer to the [water treatment] plant, then you have more chlorine [in your water ] because we have to inject enough chlorine at the beginning of the line to make sure that it makes it all the way to the end of the line," Boyce said.

Cicolini's St. Johns neighborhood near County Road 210, Boyce said, is at the end of the line. Areas that do not use high levels of water could also see low chlorine readings. Tap water may have low levels if a water softener or dechlorinator has been installed.

"We're going to inject more chlorine [into the distribution system] understanding that we can't inject too much because of the people at the beginning of the line," Boyce said. "We'll also flush the system more often. You might see [chlorine levels] drop or you might see it higher and we closely monitor that."

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection rules require chlorination and a chlorine residual of 0.2 mg/L throughout the distribution system in order to prevent the spread of waterborne disease.

To have your water tested by JEA call 904-665-6000.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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