A reader contacted us a few days ago to ask why our water coverage did not mention that ammonia was being introduced into our drinking water. The fact is that we reported this water change on May 8, 2012 in our TidBits section. (below)
From the May 8, 2012 edition of Blogfinger by Charles Layton:
“New Jersey American Water is about to change the chemicals in our water. Beginning May 28, the company says you should notice less of a chlorinated taste and smell, because instead of using free chlorine as a treatment disinfectant they’ll be using chloramine, a mixture of chlorine and ammonia. This change affects Ocean Grove and surrounding communities in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. The change is not without negative side effects. The company says kidney dialysis patients should consult their physicians about whether and how to filter the water. Also, fish owners beware; chloramine may be toxic to fish.”
We have called the NJAWC several times today to obtain some updated information on this issue, but those calls have not been returned. It seems that the addition of ammonia to the water helps stabilize the free chlorine which has been used to disinfect our drinking water.
The two molecules join together to produce chloramine which cuts down on dreaded DBP’s — disinfection byproducts. The NJAWC website says that they started this program on June 12. The use of ammonia for this purpose is evidently a tried and true approach to a situation, and the amounts that are used are well within the EPA guidelines.
Some of you (and me) have fish ponds and aquariums in the Grove. There are three ponds in my immediate neighborhood. I have noticed no trouble, although ammonia can kill fish. I tested the pond and found no ammonia. I guess my fish are in greatest danger from Mary Walton’s friend Mr. Blue — the great blue heron who is the prime suspect for murdering one of my fish.
You can get a product to protect your fish. It is called “StressCoat” and it will neutralize the chloramine. It also helps if you have a biological filter operating for your pond.
I could not find any lab reports that measured the ammonia in our drinking water, but I always disliked the smell and taste of chlorine when I first turned on my OG sink water. Now that evil smell is gone, replaced by the EPA-approved invisible additive: ammonia.
—Paul Goldfinger, MD