News Feature | January 13, 2014

Chlorine Burn May Ward Off Brain-Eating Amoeba

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


Louisiana utilities are still wrestling with the consequences of the brain-eating amoeba.

For instance, Shreveport, LA, recently issued a warning for its customers: Their tap water might taste weird.

That's because the city is "using a free chlorine burn out to clean its water system," according to ArkLaTex. The Associated Press called this a "precaution" against the killer brain-eating amoeba that has killed three people in the state in recent years. 

The treatment will occur for a month or 45 days. What will happen as a result of this treatment?

"There are no associated health risks to the process. There will be times of lower water pressure, possible odor, and taste or small rust particles in the water. The city will attempt to flush the particles, color and odor from the mains with directional flushing; however, there is a possibility that some of the color and odor will get into customer lines," the report said. 

The treatment is necessary as a result of biofilm buildup in the infrastructure. 

"Over time minerals and metals, which are naturally present in water sources, can increase and attach to pipes and release when there are changes in pressure, resulting in discoloration or affected taste. Other processes such as nitrification and the growth of biofilm can also occur in water distribution pipes," the report said. 

The biofilm growth can make disinfectants less effective. The city's chlorine burn out will help clean out the lines and "reduce the occurrence of nitrification and biofilm," the report said. 

The burn is coming to the same state where killer amoebas were found in the drinking water, the Associated Press noted. 

"City water and sewerage spokeswoman Janet Jackson says Shreveport has always kept disinfection levels at or above new levels called for by the state Department of Health and Hospitals, and the amoeba has never been found in city water," the report said. 

The amoeba struck three times in the last two years in this state. One person passed away in DeSoto Parish and two passed in St. Bernard Parish.

Louisiana issued emergency water regulations last year to beat back the amoeba incursion, Water Online previously reported

The plan for a chlorine burn in Shreveport came after public concern about the amoeba, the Shreveport Times reported

For more on ways utilities clean up the water system, check out Water Online's Drinking Water Disinfection Solution Center.

Image credit: “Chlorine," © 2011 fdecomite, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

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