File photo by Engin Akyurt/UnSplash

KAUKAUNA — Kaukauna is changing the way it treats its water, which is expected to bring noticible improvement for residents once the process begins next month, Kaukauna Utilities announced today.

The Kaukauna Utilities Water Department will implement a new and improved water treatment method by changing the chemical used in the water treatment process from sodium silicate to a polyphosphate ortho blend.

Residents will be notified by mail about the change this week.

The process of this chemical switchover will begin on Monday, May 16, 2022, in conjunction with spring hydrant flushing in the city. (See below)

According to a KU news release, the benefits of this chemical change will positively impact customers and will help improve the overallquality of KU water.

Over time, noticeable changes should include:

  • Reduced calcium buildup on plumbing faucets and fixtures
  • Less iron staining
  • Improved disinfection resulting in a reduction of chlorine introduced to the water distribution system

“Customer service and continuous improvement are priorities here at Kaukauna Utilities,” said General Manager, Michael Avanzi in the news release.

“After over a year of research by KU staff, and vetting and approval by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, we are confident this chemical change will prove to be beneficial for our drinking water system and our community,” Avanzi said.

Phosphates are a very common chemical used in the water treatment process, most effectively as a corrosion inhibitor, according to KU.

This chemical blend helps clean, maintain, and extend the life of system infrastructure including mains, service lines, valves, meters, and household plumbing.

Nationwide, more than 50% of the entire US population is served by utilities treating their water with phosphates.

They have been utilized in drinking water for over 100 years at levels less than 5 parts per million (ppm).

These are the same phosphates utilized in food at much higher levels.

For example, cola drinks can have over 1,000 ppm, and cheese can contain 30,000 ppm

“I have been a Kaukauna Utilities water customer my entire life. So being a part of this chemical change as not only an employee of KU, but also a customer, is exciting. We absolutely have our customer’s best interest in mind as we make this change,” said Andy Vanden Heuvel, KU Water Department Superintendent.

The change is not expected to affect what residents pay for water in the city, according to Vanden Heuvel.

The process of this chemical switchover will begin on Monday, May 16, 2022, in conjunction with spring hydrant flushing.

See details below for information on potential water discoloration during hydrant flushing.

For more information, questions, or concerns on this chemical change, please visit the Kaukauna Utilities website – www.kaukaunautilities.com/chemicalchange/ – or call Andy Vanden Heuvel, KU Water Department Superintendent, at 920-858-9180, extention 777

Hydrant Flushing

Hydrant flushing will be done during daylight hours from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and will take approximately three weeks to complete.

Kaukauna Utilities customers are advised to check for discoloration prior to washing any clothes.

If employees from the Water Department are seen working in the area, please use as little, or if possible, no water for 45 minutes to ensure that the water has settled down and that the discoloration is not drawn into the home’s water softener or hot water heater.

Ideally wait until after 4 p.m. before washing clothes to minimize potential discoloration.

Under certain circumstances, a hydrant being flushed 6-8 blocks away can cause water discoloration.

If discoloration continues, customers are advised to wait another 30 to 45 minutes, then draw off the discolored water through the cold water faucet only.

Flushing will remove most of the sediment of natural minerals such as iron and sulfur that are harmless but still discolor water.

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By staff