Your tap water will start tasting different today | ARLnow


Tap water in Arlington (Jay Westcott staff photo)

Residents in the District of Arlington and parts of Fairfax County will notice a different taste in their tap water today.

The Washington Aqueduct, where our tap water is pumped into the Potomac River and throughout Arlington, begins its annual spring pipe cleaning today. Seasonal changes to the disinfectant used in the aqueduct will continue through May 16.

During this time, residents may notice that their water smells and tastes more like a swimming pool. This is because chlorine will be used as a disinfectant, not chloramine, which is used at all other times of the year.

The change will not affect water safety, officials said.

More from a recent Arlington County press release:

Arlington County, the District of Columbia and northeastern Fairfax County will begin cleaning up their water networks on Monday, March 21, repeating the annual process of safety.

The entire process will continue until May 16, and service will continue uninterrupted. During this time, the drinking water from the faucet may taste slightly different, but the water is essentially unchanged due to the purification process.

Arlington and nearby jurisdictions get their water from the Washington Aqueduct, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Following industry standard practice, the Legion temporarily switched its system disinfectant from chloramines to chlorine to help clean pipes and maintain system flow.

The aqueduct continued to add corrosion inhibitors during this process to reduce the potential release of lead in district system piping.

During spring cleaning, the local water department continuously monitors drinking water for safe chlorine levels and conducts a full system flush to improve water quality. Residents may consider open fire hydrants part of their daily activities.

what to expect

  • This temporary cleaning can impart a slight chlorine smell and taste to the tap water. In response, customers can turn on the cold water faucet for about two minutes before use, use a filter system or let the water sit in a container for an hour or two to allow the chlorine smell and taste to dissipate.
  • Customers who take special precautions to remove chloramines from tap water for the remainder of the year should continue to use such methods during the temporary switch to chlorine. As always, people with special concerns should consult their healthcare provider.

Drinking water in the region continues to meet or exceed all safety standards set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Virginia Department of Health.

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