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Why D.C. area tap water may taste, smell different

Monday - 3/26/2012, 1:43pm  ET

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It's not your sink - tap water in the Washington area will likely taste different over the next few weeks, according to the Washington Aqueduct. (courtesy dhs.gov)

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Tap water will likely smell and taste slightly different for the next six weeks in Washington, Arlington County, the city of Falls Church, and parts of Fairfax County.

"This is spring cleaning for the water distribution system," says Patty Gamby, deputy general manager with the Washington Aqueduct.

For most of the year, the disinfectant for drinking water treatment is chloramines, which is chlorine with ammonia added.

"This morning, at 3 a.m. we turned off the ammonia," Gamby says. "Standing here next to ammonia feed pumps, and everything is eerily quiet down there."

The yearly temporary change is designed to help clean water pipes.

While the drinking water remains healthy, "unfortunately people probably will tell the difference," Gamby says.

"People may notice a slightly more chlorinous taste and smell," Gamby says.

Several other jurisdictions do similar flushing each spring.

The process will revert to chloramines in six weeks.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)