Annual Spring Cleaning for Water Pipes Begins Monday

March 26, 2020
  • Routine disinfectant switch begins next week, continues into May
  • Regional drinking water system meets all Federal and state safety standards
  • Easy steps to eliminate any temporary change in water taste
  • Virus transmission is not a risk in drinking water

The District of Columbia, Arlington County and the northeastern Fairfax County will clean out their tap water network starting Monday—a safe, annual process.

Service continues uninterrupted during the process, which runs from March 30 through May 4. During that time, drinking water may taste slightly different. But the purification process remains unchanged and the water is essentially unchanged.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Washington Aqueduct performs the temporary disinfectant switch from chloramine to chlorine to allow local water authorities to clean the pipes and maintain good water flow. Washington Aqueduct continues to add a corrosion inhibitor during the process to reduce the potential release of lead in system pipes throughout the region.

During the cleaning, local water authorities will continually monitor the drinking water for safe chlorine levels as well as conduct system-wide flushing to enhance water quality. Concurrently, staff will start systematically flushing fire hydrants. This process is repeated nearly every spring, in the region and across the nation. Crews operating hydrants are a normal part of this routine.

This temporary cleaning often brings with it a new smell to tap water. If customers opt, they can run the cold water tap for about two minutes, use a water filter or let water sit in a container in the refrigerator to remove chlorine taste and odor.

Customers who take special precautions to remove chloramine from tap water should continue such methods during the temporary switch to chlorine. As always, those with special concerns should consult their health care provider.

The Washington Aqueduct is the wholesale water supplier for the District of Columbia, Arlington and northeastern Fairfax County.

Drinking Water and COVID-19

There is absolutely no risk of virus transmission through the region’s public water systems. Disinfectants used in the region’s water treatment, like chlorine, neutralize the virus that causes COVID-19. Conventional water treatment methods also use filtration.

The region’s drinking water continues to meet all safety standards established by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Virginia Department of Health.

For more information on District drinking water, please contact DC Water:

DC Water: 202-612-3440 (Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.) or 202-612-3400 (24-hour)

Regional jurisdictions:

Arlington County: 703-228-5000 (Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.) or 703-228-6555 (24-hour)

Fairfax Water: 703-698-5800 (Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.) or 703-698-5613 (24-hour)