Water Quality FAQ

Why do you add chlorine to the water?

Chlorination has played the primary role in protecting America’s drinking water since the early 1900’s and is responsible for a large part of the 50 percent increase in life expectancy in this century. This simple disinfection process combined with filtration led Life magazine to conclude that the water purification process as it was refined in the 20th century was “probably the most significant public health advance of the millennium.”

In 1850, John Snow used chlorine to attempt disinfection in London water supplies after an outbreak of cholera. Sims Woodhead used “bleach solution” in 1897 as a temporary measure to sterilize potable water distribution mains at Maidstone, Kent (England) following a typhoid outbreak.

After dramatic reduction in typhoid deaths in Great Britain, Jersey City, N.J., adopted chlorination in 1908. Other cities across the US soon followed suit and resulted in the virtual elimination of waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery and hepatitis A. Prior to the chlorination of drinking water, water borne pathogens killed about 25 out of 100,000 people in the US annually, a death rate that approximates that associated with automobile accidents today.

Can chemicals used to treat CUD's water cause odors in my home?

CUD began using chlorine dioxide in late 2006 as part of the disinfection process at the water treatment plant. Chlorine dioxide safely and effectively purifies drinking water while reducing disinfection byproducts such as trihalomethane and haloacetic acid. However, chlorine dioxide can sometimes contribute an odor to a customers’ home. Most of the chlorine dioxide added during disinfection disappears by the time the water enters the distribution system. However, a very small amount (less than one-quarter part per million) may remain in until it reaches the tap. When the customer turns on their tap, the chlorine dioxide immediately evaporates. If this gas mixes with petroleum-based vapors from such products paint and carpeting, a noticeable odor is produced.

Chlorine dioxide levels in drinking water are strictly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is important to remember that the odor is caused by the interaction of chlorine dioxide gas with petroleum-based vapors and does not affect the quality of your tap water.

To avoid these odors, open your windows and turn on fans when painting and installing new carpet or using petroleum-based solvents. This will remove some of the vapors that react with chlorine dioxide, subsequently lessening or eliminating the odor. Another option is to use an activated carbon filter on your water, which will prevent the formation of the compounds causing the odors.

Is bottled water safer than tap water?

Although many consumers believe bottled water is safer than tap water, this is not generally the case. A recent study revealed that a large percentage of bottled water is simply tap water in a bottle sold at a 100 to 1,000 times the price. For example, a typical gallon jug of bottled water ranges from $0.99 to $4 compared to just over half a cent for a gallon of CUD tap water.

The quality of bottled water can also greatly vary depending on its source, production process, packaging material, and shelf-life before use. Until 1993, there were no proposed federal standards for bottled water and in many states it was unregulated. It wasn’t until 1996 that bottled water was required to meet many of the same regulations as tap water.

Do I need a home water filter?

No. Independent agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission and Consumers Union (publisher of Consumer Reports) have determined home water treatment devices are not necessary for health reasons as long as the water supplier meets state and federal requirements. Rest assured CUD maintains compliance with regulated drinking water standards.

Does CUD water have fluoride in it?

Yes, CUD began adding fluoride to its water supply to reduce tooth decay in children at the rate of approximately 1 part per million. This amount is recommended by the American Dental Association for maximum dental protection.

Why is my water discolored when I first turn it on?

If your water appears discolored when you turn it on, there are several causes. It is possible that sediments from the main line were stirred up by some pressure or flow event in the system or it could come from older galvanized iron pipe in your home plumbing system. Please run your faucet for a few minutes to see if it will clear, it usually takes a few minutes for fresh water from CUD’s water main to reach your faucet. If it doesn’t clear or the problem is reccurring, please call CUD to investigate.

What are the white particles collecting in my faucet strainer and shower head?

The particles may be a sign that the fill tube in your hot water tank is deteriorating. If so, white particles (which may have a bluish tint) will show up in strainers in various locations in your house–washing machine, kitchen faucet, and shower head. These particles are plastic and will float on water and melt when heated at high temperatures. Most water heater companies will replace the fill tubes because they were flawed. Check the name of your tank, and call the company for instructions.

What are black particles collecting in my sink?

These particles are most likely a sign that the flexible tubing used to connect your water supply to your faucet is deteriorating. This was a defect is some of the older supply lines and should not be a problem with their replacement or with new construction. As with any water quality issue, CUD will be happy to respond and investigate.

Why does my water have a "milky" apperance?

The milky color is really air in your lines and is safe.

Hardness of Water?

The average hardness for 2009 was 193 which equals 11.3 grains.

Do you allow meters or backflows to go inside buildings?

No.  Meters will be set at or near the property line.  If a backflow is required, it shall be located directly downstream of the meter in an aboveground hotbox.

Is there mercury in our water supply?

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is present throughout the environment and in plants and animals. Human industrial activity increases the amount of airborne mercury that eventually finds its way into lakes, rivers, and oceans, where it ends up in the food chain.

Mercury then “bioaccumulates” in the food chain through larger predators that eat smaller fish. Thus, it can be riskier to eat larger fish than smaller ones.

However, we do not find mercury in the water supply – and we test for it regularly. In fact, Stones River has been tested a minimum of every six months for the past 31 years. No mercury has ever been found.

If mercury were indeed present, CUD’s cleansing processes at the K. Thomas Hutchinson Water Treatment Plant would remove it. Our annual Consumer Confidence Report indicates that we meet and exceed state and federal standards for water quality.

If you have any concerns about mercury in area drinking water, please contact the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation at (615) 687-7000.