Public Works Water Utilities

Here’s why your water may temporarily taste, smell different in April

Drinking water may taste and smell different in April for residents who live in Sugar Land outside of the New Territory, Greatwood, or River Park water systems.

Sugar Land currently uses chloramine, a combination of free chlorine and ammonia, to disinfect the drinking water within the City’s main water system. To maintain and improve the highest water quality standards in distribution systems, the City of Sugar Land will begin a Free Chlorine Conversion of the city’s main water system on April 4, and will return to chloramine May 2.

This standard process is recommended by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for systems treating surface water. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends Free Chlorine Conversions as a necessary and effective measure for maintaining water quality.

While the water will remain safe and at highest quality possible throughout this time, residents could notice a difference in their water.

“Some residents may notice taste and odor changes and a slight discoloration to the water, primarily during the transition period,” Brian Butscher, director of public works, said. “However, noticeable water quality changes associated with conversions are normally short-lived and are not public health risks.”

Residents can safely consume and use their drinking water as normal during the conversion period, Butscher said.

This conversion doesn’t apply to the New Territory, Greatwood or River Park water systems because they do not receive surface water and are on free chlorine at all times. The City switched from free chlorine to chloramine in its main water system when it began treating surface water in 2013.

The City implemented a free chlorine conversion process in April 2021 and are part of the maintenance strategy for the City’s water distribution system.

For more information about the temporary conversion and to view a list of frequently asked questions, please visit:

Hear from the H20 Pros

Back in 2021, Public Works Director Brian Butscher (formerly Deputy Director) and Surface Water Plant Manager John Bailey explained the city’s temporary conversion of the disinfectant used in the water treatment process from chloramine to free chlorine. This video was recorded in 2021, however, the discussion and information provided is relevant to 2023’s free chlorine conversion process.

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