Aquarium Owners Take Note: Water treatment is changing; toxic to aquatic life


A change in Big Sioux Community Water System’s water treatment will affect aquarium treatment procedures for residents in Flandreau as noted in the city’s notice published on page 10 of this week’s paper.

But, it also will affect all customers using BSCWS’s water. These include rural customers on the system as well as residents in Colman, Egan and Trent towns.

In the past, the drinking water produced by the company was disinfected by using free chlorine.

Beginning soon, the disinfectant will change to chloramines, another form of disinfectant which is used to kill potentially harmful bacteria in water. There are a combination of chlorine and ammonia.

Dave Bennett, chief plant operator at Big Sioux, said they currently are in the process of changing the water treatment. He estimates the change will go into effect within a month.

The change has come about because Big Sioux will start purchasing their water from the Minnehaha Community Water Corporation who purchases their water from Lewis and Clark Regional Water System in Yankton.

Changing BSCWS’s water treatment will make the waters match.

Though chloramines help to make water safe to drink, they are toxic to fish, reptiles and amphibians.

For fish and other marine life to live in the water, the chloramines must be removed. But because, unlike free chlorine, chloramines do not dissipate rapidly from water, there are extra steps to take to remove the disinfectant the water.

Chloramines are toxic to both saltwater and freshwater fish because of the combination of chlorine and ammonia used to make them.

When people, animals or birds swallow water that contains chloramines, the chlorine and ammonia is neutralized by the digestive system before reaching the bloodstream.

For fish and other marine life, the substances enter the bloodstream because they breathe in the water. The substances chemically bind to iron in the red blood cells, which makes it difficult for those cells to carry oxygen.

To remove chloramines from the water, the ammonia, which is released as chloramines break down naturally or through the use of dechlorination chemicals, must be removed from the water in fish tanks or ponds before coming into contact with the fish or amphibians.

Ammonia may be removed by specific agents to remove chloramines and ammonia, natural zeolites or a high grade granular activated carbon filter. Chloramines may take weeks to disappear.

To learn about specific chemicals to remove the chloramine, Bennett recommended speaking with one’s pet store supplier.

Methods that will not work to remove chloramines from water include reverse osmosis and boiling the water.

With any questions or comments about chloramination, contact Dave Bennett at Big Sioux Community Water System at 997-2098 or [email protected]

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