City of Brownwood utility crews analyze samples of water daily in municipal distribution lines to ensure that the supply remains properly disinfected throughout its system, city officials said Friday.

“The state regulatory agency — Texas Commission on Environmental Quality — requires that we maintain at least a 0.5mg/l residual throughout the system,” Interim City Manager Don Hatcher said. “They have determined that any lesser residual would not be adequate to provide the safe quality water that is required. The City of Brownwood monitors the distribution system daily to meet this mandate.”

Hatcher said at least two representative samples are analyzed each day, and if the residual is close to the minimum required, city utility personnel make adjustments to increase the available chlorine.

“These adjustments may be, but are not limited to, changing the fill levels in the water storage tanks, flushing fire hydrants to bring higher residuals to the area of concern, and/or taking storage tanks off-line to reduce residence tall,” Hatcher said.

His comments came the day after the City of Abilene issued an order Thursday for its customers to boil water after disinfectant levels dropped below certain levels.. The situation in Abilene apparently was caused by a combination of heavy rains, low water usage and hot weather.

“This is an unusually wet summer,” Hatcher said. “The system usage has been comparable to winter usage. The low usage combined with the summer heat… makes it harder to maintain the residuals than in winter.” The higher temperatures prompt the available chlorine to dissipate more quickly, sometimes before the water reaches consumers.

The City of Brownwood purchases potable water from the Brown County Water Improvement District’s water treatment plant, which routinely earns top awards for its water quality. That treated water is disinfected with a post-chlorine/ammonia disinfectant, which at the correct ratio is a combination of free chlorine and ammonia.

“This creates chloramines, which is the disinfectant in the City of Brownwood’s water supply,” Hatcher said. “The chloramines have a longer residence time than just using free chlorine. This allows the residual to be maintained for longer periods of time and to carry the residual to the far extremes of the distribution system.”

The most recent awards the water treatment plant has received are the optimization program award and the total coliform award, both for 2006, which were presented in early August.

“Only six other water treatment plants in the state qualify for the optimization program,” John Chisholm, general manager of the Brown County Water Improvement District No. 1, said Friday. “They operate at even stricter standards on almost every everything we measure. They have been doing an outstanding job.”

Chisholm said the total coliform rule award recognizes the plant for its ability to consistently produce water that exceeds health goals and legal contaminate limits set by federal and state regulators.

“I know that the City of Brownwood works hard,” Chisholm. “David Harris (city utilities director) and his team work hard monitoring the situation throughout the distribution system.”