Annual Water Pipe Cleaning Begins Monday February 20

Photo of child drinking tap water from a glass
February 17, 2023
  • Disinfectant switch begins next week, continues until May 15
  • Regional drinking water system meets all Federal and state safety standards
  • Easy steps help reduce any temporary change in water taste

The water networks serving DC Water, along with Arlington County and northeastern Fairfax County, will undergo annual cleaning starting Monday. Water service continues uninterrupted during the process, which runs from February 20 to May 15 this year. During that time, drinking water may smell or taste slightly different.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Washington Aqueduct, water supplier to these regions, performs the temporary disinfectant switch from chloramine to chlorine. The switch provides an added element that helps clean and maintain the water pipes. Washington Aqueduct continues to add a corrosion inhibitor during the process to reduce the potential for release of lead in service lines.

“This is an important step in maintaining water pipes for delivery of safe drinking water,” said DC Water CEO and General Manager David L. Gadis, “We coordinate with the Aqueduct and regional water utilities during this annual cleaning. DC Water continues to monitor for safe levels of chlorine as well as ensuring we meet all federal drinking water standards.”

DC Water also conducts system-wide flushing to enhance water quality during this time. Water utilities will systematically flush fire hydrants by opening them up to allow fresh water to flow through the system. Crews operating hydrants in this manner are a normal part of this routine. This process is repeated nearly every year, in this region and across the nation.

This year’s switch begins earlier and extends longer while the Washington Aqueduct performs some capital improvements that require this specific water treatment.

This temporary cleaning often adds a new smell or taste to tap water. If customers opt, they can run the cold water tap for about two minutes, then use a water filter. Or they can fill a pitcher with water from the tap and place it in the refrigerator to reduce the 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.

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

For more information, please visit DC Water customers can also call 202-612-3440 (Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.) or 202-612-3400 (24-hour).