Iron is lunch for bacteria in water systems.
“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of iron in our well water and we have old iron pipes throughout our system,” said Clay Evers, Kilgore director of Public Works. “These specific bacteria live in most water systems, but when they get out of control we add free chlorine to reduce the bacteria and their food source, which is iron.”
Kilgore water customers have, for the last month or so, noticed the red water and an accompanying smell of chlorine. Chlorine is the disinfectant; red water is the result. As a general rule, the city disinfects with chloramines — essentially chlorine plus ammonia. “The chloramine we normally use wasn’t able to control the situation this summer due to the extreme heat, so the city worked with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to implement the free chlorine burn to combat the issue.”
Evers said “Kilgore is just one of many cities in Texas this summer having to use these protocols, and so we’ve been able to implement the same best practices that are being used by countless other cities in the state.”
There’s always iron in Kilgore water, but it’s generally invisible. Unfortunately, when chlorine interacts with invisible iron, the iron becomes visible.
“We know people aren’t happy about the red water or the chlorine smell, but both are an indication the chlorine is doing its job and is still needed. Once these indicators start to diminish we’ll return the system back to chloramines. So, it’s temporary,” said Evers.
Customers can help city staff to track these issues by reporting water quality issues using the MyKilgore App or calling City Hall at (903) 984-5081.
When problems are reported, we can help mitigate the issues neighborhood by neighborhood, by flushing the system at fire hydrants.
In the meantime, the water is — as always — tested regularly and remains well within state and federal guidelines and is safe to use.
Find more information at www.cityofkilgore.com/chlorineconversion.