Chlorine FAQs

What is chlorine and why is it added to drinking water?

Chlorine is a disinfectant that is commonly used to treat drinking water. Disinfection of drinking water is vital to protecting the public against disease. Disinfectants like chlorine kill bacteria and viruses that can enter a water system. The use of chlorine and other disinfectants has virtually eliminated instances of waterborne diseases like typhoid fever, cholera and dysentery in the United States and other developed countries.

How is chlorine regulated?

Public water systems using a surface water supply (such as a reservoir) are required to maintain a detectable chlorine residual in the distribution system. A chlorine residual is a safe level of chlorine that remains in the drinking water after it is initially added.

The EPA and MassDEP have assigned a maximum residual disinfectant level (MRDL) of 4 parts per million as an annual average. Springfield’s water is well below this limit.

Why can I smell chlorine in my tap water?

Sensitivity to the taste and odor of chlorine varies among consumers. Some may be able to smell/taste chlorine at much lower levels than others.

The Commission has always maintained detectable chlorine residual levels within the distribution system. Recently, the Commission has adopted a more proactive approach to drinking water disinfection with the goal of maintaining higher chlorine residuals at all points in the system. We have modified chlorine application at the water treatment plant, and continue to flush the distribution system in targeted areas to ensure that chlorine residual is better distributed throughout the system. Chlorine levels are still well below the maximum limit established by the EPA and MassDEP.

If I can smell chlorine in my water, is it still safe to drink?

Yes. Chlorine residual levels are monitored daily at multiple points throughout the system, and levels are consistently well below the 4 parts per million maximum limit set by the EPA and MassDEP.

What can I do to reduce chlorine in my tap water?

Fill a clean pitcher with water and place it in the refrigerator. The chlorine will dissipate over a period of a few hours.

Activated carbon water filters can reduce taste and odor associated with chlorine. These filters are available in the form of pitchers and faucet attachments.