To serve you better, we've assembled a list of our customers' most frequently asked questions. If you don't find your answer here, feel free to contact us.

The Catawba River is the source of drinking water for the customers of Lancaster County Water & Sewer District and Union County, NC.

Water from the Catawba River is screened and pumped to a reservoir and lightly pre oxidized with chlorine dioxide before it reaches the water treatment plant. At the treatment plant, alum and polymer (coagulants) are added to cause the impurities in the water to clump together so they can be removed more easily by filtration. Water then flows by gravity through large filters made up of layers of anthracite coal, silica sand, and course sand. The filtered water is then chlorinated, as it flows to reservoir where it is held long enough to ensure that germs are destroyed. As a final step, the pH of the water is adjusted with caustic soda, fluoride, and phosphates before it enters the distribution system, and chloramines are added to ensure there is enough to keep it safe all the way to the last house.

Chlorine is the most common disinfectant used in the United States. It is used by 75% of large water systems and 95% of smaller systems. Chlorine has been added to drinking water to kill germs since 1902. The amount of chlorine used is sufficient to kill germs, but is not enough to harm humans. Chlorination of public water supplies was listed by Time magazine as one of the 50 greatest achievements of the 19th century, leading to great success in reducing water-borne diseases.

Chloramines are added to drinking water at the water filtration plant. The plant chloraminates water to ensure there is 2.0 parts per million when it leaves the treatment plant. EPA regulations allow public water systems to chlorinate at a level 2 times higher than we currently use.

The level of chlorine in our drinking water is constantly monitored and does not change. At certain times of the year, some customers report that their water smells more like chlorine than other times. This can happen when substances like algae are found in the river & lake water. These substances react with the chlorine causing the smell to be more noticeable. The specific algae that cause this phenomenon only grow certain times of the year.

Pink residue is generally not a problem with water quality. In fact, pink residue is likely a result of airborne bacteria which produce a pinkish or dark gray film on regularly moist surfaces. Such surfaces include toilet bowls, shower heads, sink drains, and tiles.

Some people have also noted that the pink residue in their pet’s water bowl, which causes no apparent harm to the pet and is easily cleaned off.

Many experts agree that the bacteria that cause these pink stains is most likely Serratia marcescnens, a bacteria which is found naturally in soil, food, and in animals. Serratia, which produce a characteristic red pigment, thrive on moisture, dust, and phosphates and need almost nothing to survive.

The pinkish film often appears during construction or after construction or remodeling, when dust and dirt containing Serratia bacteria are stirred up. Once the bacteria are airborne, it will seek a moist location in which it can grow. Some people have reported that the pink residue only appears during certain times of the year, when their windows are left open for most of the day. This bacteria is present in a number of environments and wind can carry the airborne bacteria or stir up dust in which the bacteria are present.

The use of activated carbon filters, which remove chlorine from the water, can make the problem worse. The absence of the normal levels of chlorine in tap water allows Serratia to thrive.

The best solution to this problem is to continually clean the involved surfaces to keep them free from bacteria. Compounds containing chlorine work best, but keep in mind that abrasive cleaners may scratch fixtures, making them more susceptible to bacterial growth.

Chlorine bleach can be used periodically to disinfect the toilet and help to eliminate the occurrence of the pink residue. An easy way to do this is to stir three to five tablespoons of fresh bleach to the toilet tank, flush the toilet to allow the bowl to be disinfected, and add another dose of bleach to the tank as it is refilling. The use of toilet “cakes” containing disinfectant can help keep the problem under control. By keeping bathtubs and sinks wiped down and dry, the formation of pink residue can be avoided.

NO, use cold water. Hot water is more likely to contain rust, copper, and lead from the household plumbing and water heaters. These substances can dissolve into hot water faster than they do in cold. This is especially true when water has not been used for a while (6 to 8 hours). When water has not been used for several hours, it is recommended to allow the faucet to run for 1 to 2 minutes if you are going to use the water to drink or cook with. To avoid wasting water, catch the water in a pitcher or bucket and use it to water plants.

The Catawba River Water Treatment Plant water supply averages 26 parts per million or 1.52 grains per gallon. ( parts per million X  0.0584 = grains per gallon)

Non-Toxic polypropylene plastic from the dip tubes (cold-water intake pipes) in the water heater. To remedy this, consult a plumber or the water heater manufacturer.

Earthy or musty tastes and odors occur in CRWSP’s river water, most often in late spring and summer. The odor is produced by algae when their growth increases because of warmer weather and sunlight. The odor increases where fresh water becomes more aged, such as in a cul-de-sac, dead ended water main, stale water areas of the home, or after no use in the home (vacation). The odor is more noticeable in hot water, particularly in a shower. If after running the water for 3 to 5 minutes, the odor is still there, it is most likely from the water main. Please call your water provider to have the main flushed.

Black, brown or rusty particles can be caused by minerals breaking loose during hydrant flushing, line breaks or line maintenance. Flush your water for several minutes. If the water does not clear, the particles could be coming from breakthroughs in your hot water heater or filter system or a breakdown of the gaskets inside the plumbing fixture. Call a licensed plumber to investigate the problem.

Sulfate reducing bacteria in the hot water heater are the cause of this smell in hot water. These are non harmful bacteria that can grow in extreme temperatures. They are found in some hot springs. These bacteria take sulfate and change it into hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg smell). Remedy this by turning the water heater all the way up for 24 hours and then flush it and return it to its normal temperature. Caution: Be extremely careful of scalding water during the 24 hour period this water will burn very quickly. Extra caution should be used around children.

Not necessarily. Check the bottled water label or contact the bottled water supplier for test results on their product. Under special circumstances, such as an emergency, bottled water is a good choice.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates public water systems. As shown in our Water quality report (PDF) CRWSP’s water supply meets all federal and state drinking water standards. Bottled water must comply with Food and Drug Administration regulations, which must be equal to EPA standards for drinking water. Most required monitoring under FDA regulations is not as frequent as the monitoring done on CRWSP’s water.

Depending on the source of the water and the treatment process, some bottled waters may contain more or less amounts of substances than tap water. Some studies have shown that microbial growth may occur in bottled water during storage due to lack of residual disinfection. CRWSP adds chlorine to its water to control microbial growth.

EPA Publications contain more information about drinking water and your health