Stanford Report Online

San Francisco officials to begin using chloramine in campus drinking water

On Feb. 2, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), which provides domestic drinking water to the campus, will begin using chloramine, a compound formed by adding ammonia to chlorine, to remove bacteria and viruses from its drinking water. SFPUC water is currently disinfected using chlorine.

The change had been planned for November 2003, but SFPUC delayed the project.

Chloramine disinfection has many benefits, including protecting customers from bacteria, viruses and most other microbes that can be found in water. The disinfection properties of chloramine last longer than chlorine in the distribution system and provide increased protection for the water while it is in the reservoirs and pipelines. Many consumers from other utilities that already have switched to chloramine disinfection report that chloramine improves the taste and odor of drinking water.

Switching to chloramine disinfection is intended to improve public health overall by lowering disinfection by-products, including trihalomethanes, a suspected carcinogen. However, some customers will need to take precautions. Chloramine is toxic to fish in aquaria and has the potential to be toxic to kidney dialysis patients. The SFPUC has coordinated with the California Department of Health Services to certify that dialysis treatment centers are ready for the conversion.

Questions or concerns about the chloramine conversion may be directed to Marty Laporte at 725-7864 or Lee Ann Kincade at 723-9747.

Additional information is available on the Utilities website at