The boil water notice that was recently rescinded for the Highway 359 area occurred in the middle of a month-long free chlorine burn that the city is currently conducting.

As recently as last year, Laredo’s free chlorine conversions, a disinfection process meant to clear out any bacteria in the system, would last only seven days.

But these week-long conversions likely weren’t doing much for the farthest reaches of the city’s system, such as the 359 area, said the city’s new Utilities Director Arturo Garcia. In fact, he believes everything they were disinfecting in the city’s lines was being carried out to the end of the system and accumulating at the dead ends.

A month-long free chlorine burn is more appropriate for a system as long and sprawling as Laredo’s, Garcia said. He understands that it’s an inconvenience for many people who are bothered by the “pool smell” coming out of the faucet but said they will now be able to better handle and maintain chlorine residuals in the water.

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Assistant Utilities Director Mike Rodgers believes they would have been able to lift the the boil water notice without this disinfectant method. For 35 days the Utilities Department recirculated and filtered out the lines in the affected neighborhoods with a Neutral Output Discharge Elimination System, or NO-DES.

The free chlorine conversion just so happened to take place at the same time, Rodgers said.

But he also noted that without the conversion to free chlorine, the disinfectant levels in the 359 area might have dipped below the state’s threshold again sooner.

Since bringing up the chloramine residuals, they’ve taken two water samples at 12 locations, which all came back with good results, Rodgers said.

On May 6 and July 8, coliform bacteria was found in water samples taken from the City of Laredo’s system, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Garcia said these samples were contaminated at the location of the tests, and that they have not detected any bacteria in the system.

Be safe and make sure to boil your water or consider buying a water filtration system like the AquaOx Water Filter.

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