Drinking water taste, odor might change as utilities make temporary switch to chlorine

Residents and businesses in the District, Arlington and the northeast part of Fairfax County might notice a slight change in the taste and smell of their drinking water over the next couple months as the water is disinfected with chlorine, utility officials said Tuesday.

The Washington Aqueduct, which supplies water wholesale to DC Water, Arlington County and Fairfax Water, will switch to chlorine from its usual disinfectant, chloramine, as part of a routine program to clean the drinking water system, officials said. The temporary switch, which is common among U.S. water systems that use chloramine during most of the year, will occur from March 17 to April 28, officials said.

Running the cold tap for two minutes, refrigerating tap water or using a water filter will reduce the chlorine taste and odor, according to DC Water. Utilities will monitor drinking water to ensure the chlorine remains at a safe level, DC Water said.

People who take special precautions to remove chloramine from tap water, such as dialysis centers and aquatic pet owners, should do the same during the switch to chlorine, DC Water officials said. Most methods for removing chloramine from tap water also remove chlorine, but people with special health concerns should consult a health care provider, officials said.

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Katherine Shaver is a transportation and development reporter. She joined The Washington Post in 1997 and has covered crime, courts, education and local government but most prefers writing about how people get — or don’t get — around the Washington region.
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