Chloramination Q&A

A few facts about chloramination.

The Water Treatment Plant in the Town of Slave Lake is changing its disinfection process from chlorination (chlorine only) to chloramination (adding chlorine and ammonia).

Chloramination is a safe, proven water disinfection process that has been widely used in communities across Canada, the United States and Europe for several decades. The City of Edmonton has utilized chloramination for more than 25 years.

Chloraminated water is safe for drinking by people and animals, cooking, bathing, laundry, gardening and all other general household uses. It can be used safely by women who are pregnant, for mixing baby formula, and for cleansing of cuts, scrapes and wounds.


Frequently asked questions about the chloramination process.

01 What is chloramination?
Chloramination is the process of adding ammonia to drinking water which already has chlorine added as a disinfectant. The ammonia combines with the existing chlorine which is called free chlorine to create chloramines.

02 Are chloramines new?
No. Many cities in Alberta and throughout Canada have used chloramines for decades. Edmonton has used chloramination for over 25 years, and other cities including Athabasca, Stettler, and Fort McMurray. Almost 50% of the Alberta population uses chloraminated water.

03 Why are we making the change to chloramines?
The Town of Slave, the MD of Lesser Slave River, and Sawridge First Nation have jointly decided to use chloramines for their ability to last in the distribution system, for their lack of taste and odor and for their safety. The further treated water has to travel in the distribution system, the faster chlorine dissipates, making water more susceptible to harmful bacteria and Disinfection By-Products (DBPs). It has been shown that chloramines help deliver water to you with the lowest possible levels of Disinfection By-Products (DBPs) – in Alberta, this is recorded to be 90% less.

04 What are Disinfection By-Products (DBPs)?
DBPs are chemical compounds that are formed when chlorine mixes with naturally occurring organics in water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has conducted tests which determined that some DBPs are carcinogenic when consumed by laboratory animals in large quantities over a prolonged period of time, and are suspected carcinogens for people.

05 Are chloramines safe?
Yes. Chloramines have been used safely in the U. S. and Canada for many years. Health Canada accepts chloramines as a disinfectant and as a way to avoid DBP formation. Drinking water requires some type of disinfectant due to disease-causing organisms that could be carried in your drinking water. Chloraminated water is safe for bathing, drinking, cooking and all uses we have for water every day. Ammonia is naturally occurring and is efficiently metabolized in the body through our digestive systems. However, there are some groups of people who need to take special care with chloraminated water: kidney dialysis patients, fish owners and industrial users.

06 Why do kidney dialysis patients have to take special precautions?
In the dialysis process, water comes in contact with the blood across a permeable membrane. Chloramines in that water would be toxic, just as chlorine is toxic, and must be removed from water used in kidney dialysis machines. There are two ways to do that - either by adding ascorbic acid or using granular activated carbon treatment. Medical centers that perform dialysis are responsible for purifying the water that enters the dialysis machines.

07 Do medical centers, hospitals, and clinics that perform kidney dialysis know about the change to chloramines?
Yes. All medical facilities will be notified of the change. All dialysis systems already pre-treat their source water: some will have to modify their equipment before the change to the new type of disinfectant. If you have any doubt, please ask your physician.

08 What should people with home dialysis machines do to remove chloramines?
You should first check with your physician who will probably recommend the appropriate type of water treatment. Often, home dialysis service companies can make the needed modifications, but you should check with your physician to be certain.

09 If chloramines are toxic, won't they harm people and pets?
Chloramines are harmful when they go directly into the bloodstream, as happens in kidney dialysis. Fish also take chloramines directly into their blood streams. That's why chloramines must be removed from water that goes into kidney dialysis machines or is used in fish tanks and ponds.

10 If chloramines shouldn't mix with blood, is it safe to drink water containing them?
Yes. Everyone can drink water that's chloraminated because the digestive process neutralizes the chloramines before they reach the bloodstream. Even kidney dialysis patients can drink, cook and bathe in chloraminated water. It's only when water interacts directly with the bloodstream - as in dialysis or in a fish's gill structure - that chloramines must be removed.

11 How about washing an open wound, such as a cut, with chloraminated water?
Certainly. Even large amounts of water used in cleaning a cut would have no effect because virtually no water actually enters the bloodstream that way.

12 Can people with kidney ailments, on low-sodium diets, or with diabetes use chloraminated water?
Yes. People with those medical problems can use chloraminated water for all purposes.

13 If chloramines are harmful to fish, how can people safely drink the water?
Chloraminated water is no different than chlorinated water for all of the normal uses we have for water. Water that contains chloramines is completely safe to drink. The digestive process neutralizes the chloramines before they reach the blood stream. Even kidney patients can drink and bathe in chloraminated water.

14 Can pregnant women and children drink chloraminated water?
Yes. Everyone can drink water that contains chloramines. What about people who are sensitive to chemicals? The amount of chloramines will be no more than 4 parts per million parts of water. If you are concerned that this concentration might cause problems for you, check with your physician. The predominant type of chloramines will be monochloramine NH2Cl) and will be approximately in 3 the ratio of 5 parts chlorine to one part ammonia-nitrogen.

15 Will chloramines change the pH of the water?
No. The pH of the water will remain the same as before.

16 What will water taste like with chloramines?
If you notice any change at all, you may find the water has less of a chlorine odor or taste.

17 Do home water softeners remove chloramines?
Most water softeners are not designed to remove chloramines.

18 Does bottled water have chloramines?
It could. If the bottled water company uses water supplied by a water district that uses chloramines, then the water it provides will have chloramines in it, unless the company takes special steps to remove them.

19 Will chloramines affect swimming pools?
No. You will still need a free chlorine residual to retard algae and bacteria growth. The chlorine chemicals and test kits you currently use can still be used with confidence.

20 How about using chloraminated water on ornamental plants, vegetables or fruit and nut trees?
Will beneficial soil bacteria be harmed? The small amount of chloramines should have no effect on plants of any type. Beneficial bacteria will generally be protected by the soil in which they live. Chloramines will be removed by the high chlorine demand in the soil.

21 How do chloramines affect fish?
Chloramines are toxic to fish and must be removed from water, just as chlorine is toxic and must be removed. You may not have had to remove chlorine from your aquarium water, however, because it disappears rapidly on its own. This is not the case with chloramines and steps should be taken to remove chloramines. Most pet stores have sold dechlorinating (or “water conditioning”) agents for years and, generally, have recommended using them. The chemicals used to remove chlorine should work just as well for chloramines. Manufacturers have been adding chloramine information on labels on their products for years.

22 Won't letting water sit for a few days remove chloramines from tank or pond water?
No. Unlike chlorine, which dissipates when water sits for a few days, chloramines may take weeks to disappear. If you don't want to use a dechloraminating chemical, the next best solution is to install a granular activated filter and allow sufficient contact time.

23 If only a small amount of water is added to an aquarium or pond to make up for evaporative loss, do chloramines still have to be remove?
This will depend on the amount of water added in relation to the size of the aquarium or pond and the time period over which it's added. An alternative is to monitor for a total chlorine residual in the aquarium or pond while adding the chloraminated water rather than a free chlorine 4 residual. For both chlorine and chloramine residuals, the total chlorine in the water used to keep fish should be kept below 0.1 mg/L. Total chlorine test kits are available from pet stores.

24 Are both salt and fresh water fish affected by chloramines?
Chloramines will have to be removed if the water used to make salt water solution comes from a chloraminated supply. Chloramines affect salt water fish just as they effect fresh water fish.

25 Can Koi assimilate chloramines unlike other fish?
No. Koi are just as susceptible to chloramines as any other fish.

26 Will a carbon filter remove chloramines?
Yes. However, it must contain high quality granular activated carbon and you must permit sufficient contact time.

27 Will reverse osmosis remove chloramines?
No. Salts can be caught by the permeable membranes but chloramines pass through easily.

28 Will chloramines be removed by boiling the water?
No. Boiling is not an effective method of removing chloramines from water. The only practical methods for removing chloramines from water are using a water conditioner which contains a dechlorination chemical or by using granular activated carbon.

29 How much of a dechloraminating agent or what type of granular activated filter should be used?
Ask your pet supplier or read the instructions on the container or equipment.

30 What are the effects of ammonia on fish?
Ammonia can be toxic to fish, although all fish produce some ammonia as a natural byproduct. Ammonia is also released when chloramines are chemically removed. Although ammonia levels may be tolerable in individual tanks or ponds, commercial products are available at pet supply stores to remove excess ammonia. Also, biological filters, natural zeolites and pH control methods are effective in reducing the toxic effects of ammonia.

31 Will chloraminated water used for agricultural purposes have any effect on fish in adjacent streams?
Most water which runs into streams and ponds would be agricultural, landscaping or storm water drainage. After water has been used for one purpose, it probably would not have enough residual chloramine to affect fish.


Life, Work and Leisure in Lesser Slave River

The Lesser Slave Lake and the river were the main links to the Peace River district until the beginning of the 20th century, when the construction of the Northern Alberta Railway facilitated transportation in the area. Visit the Municipal History section to learn more about our region's rich heritage.
Legendary Lesser Slave River

100 Ways to Conserve Water

Less impact. Lower bills.

In addition to saving money on your utility bill, water conservation helps prevent water pollution in nearby lakes, rivers and local watersheds. Conserving water can also can also prevent unnecessary wear on your E-One Grinder Pump that may result in expensive repairs ($3,000.00 + labor).

An average household will run approximately 650 pump cycles per year. Over time, above average water usage may cause premature wear of the pump. A leaky toilet, for example, can cause approximately 440 extra pump cycles per year, cutting the life expectancy of your pump considerably. At the MD, we encourage all residents to use the water they need, but not waste it. As shown below, there are at least a hundred simple ways to save water.


There are a number of ways to save water, and they all start with you.

01 Monitor your water bill for unusually high use. Your bill and water meter are tools that can help you discover leaks.

04 Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.

07 Install covers on pools and spas and check for leaks around your pumps.

10 For cold drinks keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap. This way, every drop goes down you and not the drain.

13 Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap.

16 If your shower fills a one-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, replace the showerhead with a water-efficient model.

19 We're more likely to notice leaks indoors, but don't forget to check outdoor faucets, sprinklers and hoses for leaks.

22 When buying new appliances, consider those that offer cycle and load size adjustments. They're more water and energy efficient.

25 Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. A taller lawn shades roots and holds soil moisture better than if it is closely clipped.

28 Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the toilet bowl without flushing, you have a leak. Fixing it can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.

31 Collect water from your roof to water your garden.

34 Install a rain sensor on your irrigation controller so your system won't run when it's raining.

37 Grab a wrench and fix that leaky faucet. It's simple, inexpensive, and you can save 140 gallons a week.

40 Teach your children to turn off faucets tightly after each use.

43 Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.

46 Know where your master water shut-off valve is located. This could save water and prevent damage to your home.

49 Use a layer of organic material on the surface of your planting beds to minimize weed growth that competes for water.

52 Use a commercial car wash that recycles water.

55 Use a rain gauge, or empty tuna can, to track rainfall on your lawn. Then reduce your watering accordingly.

58 Set a kitchen timer when watering your lawn or garden to remind you when to stop. A running hose can discharge up to 10 gallons a minute.

61 Next time you add or replace a flower or shrub, choose a low water use plant for year-round landscape color and save up to 550 gallons each year.

64 If your dishwasher is new, cut back on rinsing. Newer models clean more thoroughly than older ones.

67 When you save water, you save money on your utility bills too. Saving water is easy for everyone to do.

70 Bathe your young children together.

73 Insulate hot water pipes for more immediate hot water at the faucet and for energy savings.

76 Direct water from rain gutters and HVAC systems toward water-loving plants in the landscape for automatic water savings.

79 Use a hose nozzle or turn off the water while you wash your car. You'll save up to 100 gallons every time.

82 Setting cooling systems and water softeners for a minimum number of refills saves both water and chemicals, plus more on utility bills.

85 Report broken pipes, open hydrants and errant sprinklers to the property owner or your water provider.

88 Use sprinklers that deliver big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller water drops and mist often evaporate before they hit the ground.

91 One more way to get eight glasses of water a day is to re-use the water left over from cooked or steamed foods to start a scrumptious and nutritious soup.

94 One more way to get eight glasses of water a day is to re-use the water left over from cooked or steamed foods to start a scrumptious and nutritious soup.

97 Aerate your lawn at least once a year so water can reach the roots rather than run off the surface.

100 Turn off the water while you shave and save up to 300 gallons a month.

02 When washing dishes by hand, don't let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.

05 Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.

08 Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Compost vegetable food waste instead and save gallons every time.

11 While staying in a hotel or even at home, consider reusing your towels.

14 Spreading a layer of organic mulch around plants retains moisture and saves water, time and money.

17 Collect the water you use for rinsing fruits and vegetables, then reuse it to water houseplants.

20 If you have an automatic refilling device, check your pool periodically for leaks.

23 Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you'll save up to 150 gallons per month.

26 When cleaning out fish tanks, give the nutrient-rich water to your plants.

29 When running a bath, plug the tub before turning the water on, then adjust the temperature as the tub fills up.

32 Designate one glass for your drinking water each day or refill a water bottle. This will cut down on the number of glasses to wash.

35 Don't use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator for water efficiency and food safety.

38 Reduce the amount of lawn in your yard by planting shrubs and ground covers appropriate to your site and region.

41 Remember to check your sprinkler system valves periodically for leaks and keep the sprinkler heads in good shape.

44 Don't water your lawn on windy days when most of the water blows away or evaporates.

47 To decrease water from being wasted on sloping lawns, apply water for five minutes and then repeat two to three times.

50 Use a minimum amount of organic or slow release fertilizer to promote a healthy and drought tolerant landscape.

53 Avoid recreational water toys that require a constant flow of water.

56 Encourage your school system and local government to develop and promote water conservation among children and adults.

59 If your toilet flapper doesn't close after flushing, replace it.

62 Install an instant water heater near your kitchen sink so you don't have to run the water while it heats up. This also reduces energy costs.

65 Use a trowel, shovel, or soil probe to examine soil moisture depth. If the top two to three inches of soil are dry it's time to water.

68 When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most.

71 Consult with your local nursery for information on plant selection and placement for optimum outdoor water savings.

74 Wash your car on the lawn, and you'll water your lawn at the same time.

77 Make suggestions to your employer about ways to save water and money at work.

80 Share water conservation tips with friends and neighbors.

83 Washing dark clothes in cold water saves both on water and energy while it helps your clothes to keep their colors.

86 Let your lawn go dormant during the summer. Dormant grass only needs to be watered every three weeks or less if it rains.

89 Listen for dripping faucets and running toilets. Fixing a leak can save 300 gallons a month or more.

92 Adjust your watering schedule each month to match seasonal weather conditions and landscape requirements.

95 When shopping for a new clothes washer, compare resource savings among Energy Star models. Some of these can save up to 20 gallons per load, and energy too.

98 When washing dishes by hand, fill the sink basin or a large container and rinse when all of the dishes have been soaped and scrubbed.

03 Some refrigerators, air conditioners and ice-makers are cooled with wasted flows of water. Consider upgrading with air-cooled appliances for significant water savings.

06 Choose shrubs and groundcovers instead of turf for hard-to-water areas such as steep slopes and isolated strips.

09 Plant in the fall when conditions are cooler and rainfall is more plentiful.

12 Water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation.

15 Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk and save water every time.

18 If water runs off your lawn easily, split your watering time into shorter periods to allow for better absorption.

21 Check the root zone of your lawn or garden for moisture before watering using a spade or trowel. If it's still moist two inches under the soil surface, you still have enough water.

24 Upgrade older toilets with water efficient models.

27 Use sprinklers for large areas of grass. Water small patches by hand to avoid waste.

30 Walkways and patios provide space that doesn't ever need to be watered. These useful "rooms" can also add value to your property.

33 Rather than following a set watering schedule, check for soil moisture two to three inches below the surface before watering.

36 Use drip irrigation for shrubs and trees to apply water directly to the roots where it's needed.

39 When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load.

42 Use a water-efficient showerhead. They're inexpensive, easy to install, and can save you up to 750 gallons a month.

45 Water your plants deeply but less frequently to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance.

48 Group plants with the same watering needs together to avoid overwatering some while underwatering others.

51 Trickling or cascading fountains lose less water to evaporation than those spraying water into the air.

54 Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and save 25 gallons a month.

57 Learn how to shut off your automatic watering system in case it malfunctions or you get an unexpected rain.

60 Make sure there are water-saving aerators on all of your faucets.

63 Use a grease pencil to mark the water level of your pool at the skimmer. Check the mark 24 hours later to see if you have a leak.

66 If installing a lawn, select a turf mix or blend that matches your climate and site conditions.

69 Make sure your swimming pools, fountains, and ponds are equipped with recirculating pumps.

72 Winterize outdoor spigots when temperatures dip below freezing to prevent pipes from leaking or bursting.

75 Drop your tissue in the trash instead of flushing it and save water every time.

78 Support projects that use reclaimed wastewater for irrigation and industrial uses.

81 If your toilet was installed before 1992, reduce the amount of water used for each flush by inserting a displacement device in the tank.

84 Leave lower branches on trees and shrubs and allow leaf litter to accumulate on the soil. This keeps the soil cooler and reduces evaporation.

87 Plant with finished compost to add water-holding and nutrient-rich organic matter to the soil.

90 Water only when necessary. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering.

93 Turn off the water while you wash your hair to save up to 150 gallons a month.

96 Apply water only as fast as the soil can absorb it.

99 Catch water in an empty tuna can to measure sprinkler output. One inch of water on one square foot of grass equals two-thirds of a gallon of water.


Life, Work and Leisure in Lesser Slave River

Lesser Slave River is “Iyaghchi Eennu Sepe “ in Cree, meaning "River of the Strange People." The river itself is a major tributary of the Athabasca River. Visit the Municipal History section to learn more about our region's rich heritage.
Legendary Lesser Slave River

MD of Lesser Slave River

Just a few hours due north of Edmonton, Lesser Slave River is a truly unique place to live, work and play. From breathtaking expanses of boreal forest and unspoiled natural wonders to a thriving economy and genuine work/life balance, opportunities abound. Here you'll discover a place of rugged beauty. A place of real people. A place you'll never want to leave.

General Contact Info

 info (@) mdlsr.ca
 780.849.4888
 1.866.449.4888
 780.849.4939

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