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Spring Cleaning for District's Water Pipes

March 20, 2018

Spring is the season of renewal. Each spring, utilities nationwide routinely switch their disinfectant to free chlorine and flush fire hydrants to keep water distribution pipes clean, and drinking water safe.

After meeting quality standards and leaving the federally-owned treatment facility, drinking water travels through over 1,300 miles of pipes all the way to your home. In order to keep clean this large distribution system, the disinfectant that protects drinking water is temporarily switched every year from chloramine (sometimes called combined chlorine) to chlorine. Additionally, fire hydrants are opened and water mains are flushed throughout the city. This standard procedure is the safest, most effective method for minimizing the impacts of aging pipes on water quality and preserving the integrity of the distribution system throughout the year.

While the Authority ensures water will continue to meet strict standards for drinking and everyday use, customers may notice a slight change in its taste or smell. If you notice a strong chlorine taste and odor, or temporary discoloration:

  • Flush cold water tap for two minutes
  • Refrigerate a pitcher of cold tap water to allow the chlorine odor to disappear
  • Use a pitcher–, or faucet–mount filter to remove chlorine taste and odor

Individuals and business owners who take special precautions to remove chloramine from tap water, such as dialysis centers, medical facilities and aquatic pet owners, should continue to take the same precautions during the temporary switch to chlorine. Most methods for removing chloramine from tap water are effective in removing chlorine. For more information, contact the Drinking Water Division at (202) 612-3440.

Feel free to print and distribute our Disinfectant Swtich FAQ to friends and neighbors.