Swimming-pool like water could be coming to Hampton Roads soon

Posted at 8:34 PM, Feb 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-23 23:37:38-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Swimming pool like water could be coming out of the tap soon as part of a temporary change. However, some folks said starting recently, they smell chlorine in their water.

"All of a sudden on Sunday it started smelling like a swimming pool was coming out of the tap," said Suzanne Wheatley.

Wheatley asked her husband for a glass of water but never got to drink it. She said she didn't get that far.

"It smelled too strongly. It smelled like I was trying to drink a swimming pool, so I didn't drink it," said Wheatley.

The city of Portsmouth said in a press release they will be temporarily changing the disinfecting agent in water from chloramines to free chlorine from March 7 - 28.

This change will also affect Norfolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Suffolk and Isle of Wight.  The press release also said the water may have a chlorine like smell also known as a swimming pool smell.

Susan Watson, who is the plant manager for the Lake Kilby Water Treatment Plant in Suffolk, said Chesapeake requested the change. Since the system is interconnected in order for Chesapeake to get a full flush, Portsmouth is doing it as well.

The change is done in accordance with state and federal regulations and does not pose and impact to public health or the safety of city water.

That's something Wheatley isn't comfortable with, "I don't let my children drink a swimming pool, so I don't think it's safe to drink."

City officials said when the change takes place March 7, the smell will be normal. Watson recommends running the water for two to three minutes to get it fresh off the lines. But for those interested in further filtering the water, a functional medicine coach said there are two options.

"You can invest in something on top of your counter if you have a larger kitchen. You can get a berkey filter, for example. It's a carbon filtration technology and it goes on top of your counter with a spigot. You can extract as you need it," said Ashley Grosch.

For those with smaller kitchens, Grosch recommended filtration underneath the counter, which is available at home improvement stores and is known as reverse osmosis. However, there is a kind of filter Grosch does not recommend.

“The brita ones we see we can pour and keep in the fridge, those would be at the bottom of ranking as far as what’s going to get this water tasting better and better to drink.”

Grosch said that's because the water goes through those types of filters too quickly.

“The other filter technologies you’re going to see multiple cartridges. So they’re go to be able to have contact time through two, three sometimes four cartridges. And then you're going to get out some of the chlorine and undetectable containments or constituents as we’ll call them," said Grosch.

When asked about why some residents are already smelling and tasting swimming pool like water, the city responded saying they have not made the switch to free chlorine yet.