Unhealthy byproducts found in local tap water

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Some area residents may soon be drinking water disinfected with chloramine rather than chlorine, as Crescenta Valley Water District officials contemplate switching the method to avoid a detected harmful buildup of byproducts.

The water district is buying more imported water as a result of the ongoing drought, which is typically treated with chloramine because of the organic compounds it contains, according to the district’s spokeswoman Christy Scott.

Nonimported groundwater, which the district previously relied on more heavily, is typically treated with chlorine.

Chlorine can cause a buildup of the byproducts, which are regulated by state and federal environmental agencies, according to a statement from the office of the district’s general manager.

Chloramine, formed by combining chlorine with low levels of ammonia, does not form those byproducts, according to the statement.

As the dependence on imported water grows, the district may have to switch the disinfectant method to match the dominant source, although officials are looking into alternative options.

“It’s expensive to make the change,” Scott said. “If we can avoid it while the groundwater recovers, we will.”

Meanwhile, the water district sent out a public notice about the switch to chloramine.

“We wanted to give people as much notice as possible,” Scott said, adding that, if the change happens, it will likely be made in November.

Public notice is required if the change occurs, so it’s a precautionary measure, she said.

Chloramine has been used as a water disinfectant since the 1930s and is safe for everyone to drink, including children and pregnant women, according to the district’s statement.

However, people who use dialysis machines much check with their dialysis provider to ensure machines they are using contain the proper filtration system capable of removing chloramine and ammonia from the water, rather than just chlorine, Scott said.

The same goes for owners of aquariums and ponds. Chloramine can harm fish, she added.

An informational meeting about disinfecting water with chloramines will be held at 9 a.m. this Saturday at the Glenwood water treatment plant, located at 3730 Sycamore Ave. La Crescenta.

The same information will be presented at 7 p.m. on Sept. 20 during a Crescenta Valley Town Council meeting in the community room at the La Crescenta Library, 2809 Foothill Blvd., La Crescenta.

Water district representatives will go through a presentation about the disinfection process. Residents will then be able to ask questions, with an expert and management staff on hand.

“We just want to make sure they know it’s safe,” Scott said. “It’s very common. You’re drinking it when you go to a restaurant in Los Angeles. You’re drinking it when you go to a restaurant in Glendale.”

Twitter: @lila_seidman