Questions about Water Quality

Is water with chlorine in it safe to drink?

Yes. Tests have shown that the amount of chlorine found in treated water is safe to drink although some people object to the taste. The US Environmental Protection Agency established maximum allowable levels of “residual” disinfectants, which are added to water as it enters the distribution system to protect against germs.

What should I do to avoid cold-weather problems with my pipes?

There are several necessary steps homeowners should take to avoid freezing pipes. First, disconnect and drain outdoor hoses. Detaching the hose allows water to drain from the pipe. Next, insulate pipes or faucets in unheated areas. Make sure you locate your master valve in case pipes freeze and rupture. If expecting severe cold weather and worried about your pipes freezing, you can also leave a small stream of water flowing in the bathroom during the worst of the cold spell. Let just enough water through to produce a steady, thin stream.

What is the definition of safe water? I’ve heard it called “potable water”.

Water is considered safe to drink if it meets or exceeds all of the federal, state, and provincial standards that are legally enforceable. In the United States if your tap water does not meet any one of the standards, your water supplier must notify all it customers of the problem. Water is called potable water when it is safe to drink.

What causes the pink and sometime dark gray stain on bathroom fixtures?

The pinkish film, and sometimes a dark gray color frequently noted in bathrooms on shower stalls, tubs, tile, toilets, sinks, toothbrush holders, and on pets’ water bowls is caused by the growth of the bacterium Serratia marcescens. Serratia is commonly isolated from soil, water, plants, insects, and vertebrates (including man). The bacteria can be introduced into the house through any of the above-mentioned sources. The bathroom provides a perfect environment (moist and warm) for bacteria to thrive.

The best solution to this problem is to continually clean and dry the involved surfaces to keep them free from bacteria. Chlorine-based compounds appear to 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/dark residue. Keeping bathtubs and sinks wiped down using a solution that contains chlorine will also help to minimize its occurrence.

Serratia will not survive in chlorinated drinking water.

Why does my water appear milky?

If you have ever shaken up a warm bottle of soda, you know that all of the carbonation or carbon dioxide gas added in the production process wants to come out. If you open the top, the fluid will fizz up and over as the gas escapes to the air.

The same is true for tap water. When cold, such as during the winter, water is rich in oxygen. When it enters our homes, the water warms up and the oxygen wants to escape. You turn on the tap and, like shaking up that bottle of warm soda, the air fizzes up. As the glass of water sits, you will see the water clear from the bottom of the glass upward, as the air bubbles rise and escape to the air. All of these tiny air bubbles give the glass of water a milky appearance under natural or household lighting.

The air bubbles are not harmful and will quickly dissipate.

There is pink slime on my bathroom tiles!

Bacteria and molds grow well in moist environments, such as bathtubs, sink drains and bathroom tiles. A humidifier can also encourage mold growth. These bacteria or molds are common and natural. They can be found in the air, in soil, in water, or on household surfaces. Orange and pink are common colors for many environmental bacteria such as, Pseudomonas and Flavobacterium.

Since the slime is caused by microbial growth on surfaces, cleaning and disinfecting using common household products along with good hard scrubbing are the best means for controlling the slime growth.

It is a good idea to stay on top of these slime growths and scrub them away as they appear, as they can be irritants to sensitive people.

What are the main characteristics of my tap water?

Chlorine in the form of chloramine (chlorine combined with ammonia) is added, first to disinfect the water and then to make sure that the water stays free of germs or harmful bacteria all the way to your tap. Chlorine levels in water vary from about 0.2 parts-per-million to 2 ppm depending on where you live relative to the water treatment plant, as well as the time of the year (chlorine is harder to keep in the water during the summer when the temperature of the water is high).

The acidity of Chumuckla’s water is controlled at the treatment plant using lime to make sure that treatment works properly and to make sure that the water coming out of your tap is consistent and low in corrosiveness. The natural water’s pH can change. The treatment plants control these changes so that we can supply water that is neutral in pH.

Why do I sometimes notice sediment in my water?

Sediment can appear in your drinking water any time there is a sudden change in the velocity, volume, or direction of water flowing through our mains. These conditions may occur following the opening of a fire hydrant or when we flush the distribution system. Sediment is the result of an accumulation of minerals in the water mains.

Each year we flush several hundred miles of water mains to control the buildup of these materials; these materials pose no health risk. Water with sediment should clear within several hours.

Why are the strainers in my faucets clogged with white particles?

These white particles are very likely pieces of the dip tube from your hot water heater. Several brands of hot water heaters manufactured in the 1980’s were made using a faulty dip tube that disintegrates over time. The dip tube carries the cold water from the top of the hot water heater to the bottom, where the cold water is heated. Over time, the dip tube disintegrates and the white dip tube particles are carried through the household pipes. If the particles are large enough they are caught in the strainers of the sink faucets or shower heads. Since it is only a hot water concern, these particles will only be found in places where hot water travels, so the toilet bowls and tanks, and automatic ice-makers will not contain these particles if indeed they are from the dip tube. If you are experiencing a problem of this nature, call the manufacturer of your hot water heater for further information.

Questions about Leaks

How can I check for a leak?

Be sure that all faucets, showers, or appliances that use water are turned off inside and outside your house. If when you check the dial on your meter you find either the red leak indicator on the bottom right side of the brass meters is spinning, or the digits are increasing on the new plastic meters, you have a leak. To help isolate the location, turn the water off at the shutoff valve next to your house and leave the water turned on at the meter. If the digital readout on the new plastic meters, or the red triangular leak indicator on the brass meters continues to spin; the leak is in the line coming from the meter to your house. If the leak is inside your house, check the commodes first. Another way to check for leaks is to turn the water off at your meter. Leave it off for five minutes and turn it back on. If the leak indicator or digital readout moves there is a leak and the water is filling the pipes back up. Finding a leak in a water supply line to a structure is often difficult and time consuming. Many times the leak is not noticeable as the ground is absorbing the water. In this case, the best way to correct the problem may be to replace the water supply line with at least a schedule 40 pipe. The water level in the toilet tank should be one inch below the overflow valve. If you hear the water in the tank coming in-shutting off and coming in again repeatedly, either the rubber flapper is not sealing or the ballcock (bubble shaped float) is not functioning properly. Other places a leak can occur is under a foundation, in the walls, or at outside Faucets. Even washerless faucets can leak and must have their seals replaced eventually.

How do I know if the leak is a Chumuckla Water System leak or mine?

The leak is Chumuckla’s responsibility if the leak is between the meter and the road. In the meter box, the meter, and any brass component inside the box are Chumuckla’s responsibility. The customer’s responsibility begins at the connection adapter to the brass ball valve (a pvc fitting most of the time) in the meter box and includes the water line to the customers’ house from the meter.

I want to make the repair to my water line myself. Can I just start digging or do I have to call someone first?

Before you do any digging, call 811 for line spots. If you dig without first calling for utilities to mark their lines, and you break their line, you will be financially responsible for the repair.

Questions About Meters

I don’t like the location of my meter. What can I do to get it moved?

If the request is for convenience, there will be a charge based on labor and materials to move the meter. If the move is necessary due to a hazardous situation or for Chumuckla about whether or not a charge would be applied to move the meter, please call us.

What if I see something suspicious around one of Chumuckla Water System’s wells-what should I do?

Please call 911 and report your concerns. They will notify law enforcement and Chumuckla Water to investigate.

I had my water cut off for non-payment and now my water meter is locked. What happens if I break the lock?

Chumuckla Water System takes this very seriously. If the lock is broken at the water meter, a $500 fine is assessed.

What happens if I bypass the water meter and connect directly from the service line to my house?

If this occurs you will be charged with theft of service, which carries the penalty of a fine and jail time through the court system, plus you will be fined by Chumuckla Water System $1000. An illegal connection can contaminate water for our customers and this is taken VERY SERIOUSLY!

What steps has Chumuckla Water System taken to assure our water will be available after a disaster, such as a hurricane?

Chumuckla Water System has the ability to store million gallons of water in our tanks. We also have in-place generators to assure we can continue to pump water if the power is out. Our emergency response personnel will stay during a disaster to assure we will be able to check the wells and have them operational as soon as it is safe to travel after the storm.

General Service and Billing Questions

If it is after hours or on the weekend how can I make contact with Chumuckla Water?

Call our emergency number, 698-5115, and leave a message and someone will return your call.

When are late fees applied to my bill?

Any payment received after the 12th of each month incurs a 10% late fee. For those who drop their bills in our drop box on the evening of the 12th, you will not be charged the late fee. We open those bills the first thing each morning and apply to our customer’s accounts.

What if my bill is postmarked on the 12th-but Chumuckla Water does not receive it until a day or two later?

If we receive the payment in the mail after the 12th, a late fee will be applied regardless of the postmark.

If Chumuckla Water has a leak in a main line, will I be charged more on my bill?

Customers are never charged for any water that does not go through their meter.

What should I do if I have a water quality concern, such as brown or cloudy water, or water that smells?

Please call our office at 994-3001 if you have any concerns about water quality. Brown water can be the result of opening a fire hydrant to fast, causing rust in the iron pipes and hydrant housing to come lose and color the water. Cloudy water can be caused from air in the lines, which sometimes happens after a line break. If you are at the end of a water line, sometimes water can have an unusual odor due to a chlorine buildup, Chumuckla Water can correct by flushing the lines with a flushing hydrant.

Why does Chumuckla Water System issue boil water notices?

Occasionally a water main will develop a leak or a break and the only way we can fix it is to isolate the line by shutting off valves on each side of the break/leak. This will cause the line to drain down so it can be repaired. If water pressure drops to a certain point, or if water has to be shut off for several service connections, a boil water notice is issued. During the boil water notice, customers should not use the water for drinking, cooking or bathing unless they boil the water to a rolling boil for 5 minutes, or add 10 drops of unscented bleach to a gallon of water. Let the water stand with the top of the container left off for 15 minutes. A boil water rescission is not issued until we have two bacteriological samples of the water (after the repair is made) have come back good. Boil water notices are on a phone call-out to the affected customers. A rescission notice is also called-out to let our customers know the water is safe to drink again.

How often is my water meter read and when will I receive a bill?

Your meter is read monthly. You should receive your bill by the 2nd day of the month. You can always call our office if for some reason your bill does not arrive. If you do not receive a bill, be sure to call our office in plenty of time before the 12th of the month to assure you can get your payment in and avoid a late fee.

If I use no water will I still have a monthly bill?

Yes-the monthly base bill is based on a usage of between 0-2000 gallons. The bill is the same if you use no water, or you use up to 2,000 gallons. This is in place as the water system must assure the water lines, potable water wells, storage tanks and water lines are able to provide the service to the customer even when no water is used.

When I purchase a water meter, does it belong to me and can I move it when I want to?

The meter does NOT belong to the customer-it remains on the property of the water system. If it were not this way, whenever a meter was damaged or required replacement, the customer would be responsible for the costs. The meter stays with the property should the customer move.

Do I have to notify you if I move?

Yes. You need to contact Chumuckla Water System within two days after you move so we can put a lock on the meter. If you do not do this, and someone else moves in, you will be responsible for the bill.

What do I do if I cannot make my monthly payment?

Call our office at 994-3001 make arrangements for a payment plan.

Can I hook up two houses or two businesses on one meter?

No. Each structure must have its own water meter.

Do you put chemicals in the water?

The only chemical we put in our water is chlorine which is required by law.

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