2006 + 2016/20 – Strathalbyn (South Australia) – Monochloramine, pH, Ammonia

Strathalbyn (South Australia) – Monochloramines

27/2/06: Strathalbyn Monochloramines 4.8mg/L (highest levels only)

20/2/06: Strathalbyn Monochloramines 4.7mg/L

According to the ADWG 2011: “Based on health considerations, the concentration of monochloramine in drinking water should not exceed 3mg/L (equivalent to 4.1mg Cl as C12/L). [Note this guideline changed to 5mg Cl as C12/L in 2015]
Some water supplies may also be disinfected through a process called Chloramination where ammonia is added to the water prior to the chlorine, which in turn can create Monochloramines. Sunlight does not degrade Monochloramines to the same extent as chlorine, meaning that water can be stored for longer periods of time.

“Chloramines are produced by combining chlorine and ammonia…Chloramines are weaker disinfectants than chlorine, but are more stable, thus extending disinfectant benefits throughout a water utility’s distribution system. They are not used as the primary disinfectant for your water. Chloramines are used for maintaining a disinfectant residual in the distribution system so that disinfected drinking water is kept safe.

Chloramine can also provide the following benefits:

• Since chloramines are not as reactive as chlorine with organic material in water, they produce substantially lower concentrations of disinfection byproducts in the distribution system. Some disinfection byproducts, such as the trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs), may have adverse health effects at high levels. These disinfection byproducts are closely regulated by EPA. EPA recently reduced the allowable Maximum Contaminant Levels for total THMs to 80 ug/L (250ug/L in Australia) and now limit HAAs to 60 ug/L. The use of chlorine and chloramines is also regulated by the EPA. We have Maximum Residual Disinfectant Levels of 4.0 mg/L for both these disinfectants. However, our concern is not from their toxicity, but to assure adequate control of the disinfection byproducts.

• Because the chloramine residual is more stable and longer lasting than free chlorine, it provides better protection against bacterial regrowth in systems with large storage tanks and dead-end water mains.

• Chloramine, like chlorine, is effective in controlling biofilm, which is a slime coating in the pipe caused by bacteria. Controlling biofilms also tends to reduce coliform bacteria concentrations and biofilm-induced corrosion of pipes. • Because chloramine does not tend to react with organic compounds, many systems will experience less incidence of taste and odor complaints when using chloramine. (12)

“Chloramine (as CI2) is a water additive used to control microbes, particularly as a residual disinfectant in distribution system pipes. It is formed when ammonia is added to water containing free chlorine. Monochloramine is one form of chloramines commonly used for disinfection by municipal water systems. Other chloramines (di- and tri-) are not intentionally used to disinfect drinking water and are generally not formed during the drinking water disinfection process. Some people who use water containing chloramine in excess of the maximum residual disinfectant level could experience irritating effects to their eyes and nose, stomach discomfort or anemia.” (13)

“Although monochloramine has been shown to be mutagenic in some in vitro studies, it has not been found to be genotoxic in vivo. In the absence of data on human cancer and on the basis of inadequate evidence for the carcinogenicity of monochloramine in experimental animals, monochloramine was evaluated by IARC as not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity (Group 3). The US EPA classified monochloramine in group D, not classifiable as to its human carcinogenicity, in that there is inadequate human and animal evidence. IPCS did not consider that the increase in mononuclear cell leukaemia was treatment-related. In the NTP bioassay in two species, the incidence of mononuclear cell leukaemias in female F344/N rats was increased, but no other increases in tumour incidence were observed”. (14)

(12) https://www.epa.gov/region9/water/chloramine.html

(13) https://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/disinfectants.cfm

(14) Monochloramine in Drinking-water Background document for development of WHO Guidelines for Drinkingwater Quality 2004

Strathalbyn (South Australia) – pH (alkaline)

Average pH: 2016 July-2017 June: 8.515 pH units

2018/19: Strathalbyn (South Australia). Average pH: 8.618pH units

2019/20: Strathalbyn pH (average) 8.8pH units

Based on the need to reduce corrosion and encrustation in pipes and fittings, the pH of
drinking water should be between 6.5 and 8.5.

New concrete tanks and cement-mortar lined pipes can significantly increase pH and
a value up to 9.2 may be tolerated, provided monitoring indicates no deterioration in
microbiological quality.

pH is a measure of the hydrogen ion concentration of water. It is measured on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral, greater than 7 is alkaline, and less than 7 is acidic.

One of the major objectives in controlling pH is to minimise corrosion and encrustation in pipes and fittings. Corrosion can be reduced by the formation of a protective layer of calcium carbonate on the inside of the pipe or fitting, and the formation of this layer is affected by pH, temperature, the availability of calcium (hardness) and carbon dioxide. If the water is too alkaline (above pH 8.5), the rapid deposition and build-up of calcium carbonate that can result may eventually block the pipe.

When pH is below 6.5 or above 11, the water may corrode plumbing fittings and pipes. This, however, will depend on other factors such as the material used, the concentration and type of ions in solution, the availability of oxygen, and the water temperature. Under some conditions, particularly in the presence of strong oxidising agents such as chlorine, water with a pH between 6.5 and 7 can be quite corrosive.

Chlorine disinfection efficiency is impaired above pH 8.0, although the optimum pH for monochloramine disinfectant formation is between 8.0 and 8.4. In chloraminated supplies chlorine can react with ammonia to form odorous nitrogen trichloride below pH 7.

Chlorination of water supplies can decrease the pH, while it can be significantly raised by lime leached from new concrete tanks or from pipes lined with asbestos cement or cement mortar. Values of pH above 9.5 can cause a bitter taste in drinking water, and can irritate skin if the water is used for ablutions.

Strathalbyn  (South Australia) – Ammonia

30/10/20: Strathalbyn (South Australia) Ammonia – Free – as NH3 0.5mg/L

Based on aesthetic considerations (corrosion of copper pipes and fittings), the concentration
of ammonia (measured as ammonia) in drinking water should not exceed 0.5 mg/L.
No health-based guideline value is set for ammonia.

“…Most uncontaminated source waters have ammonia concentrations below 0.2 mg/L. High concentrations (greater than 10 mg/L) have been reported where water is contaminated with animal waste. Ammonia is unlikely to be detected in chlorinated supplies as it reacts quickly with free chlorine. Ammonia in water can result in the corrosion of copper pipes and fittings, causing copper stains on sanitary ware. It is also a food source for some microorganisms, and can support nuisance growths of bacteria and algae, often with a resultant increase in the nitrite concentration.” ADWG 2011