Arlington, Fairfax and DC water pipe spring cleaning starts Monday

If your water tastes a little different, don’t be alarmed: Annual spring cleaning for tap water pipes in Arlington and northeastern Fairfax counties in Virginia, as well as the District, starts Monday.

The process runs through May 16. Service won’t be interrupted, and drinking water will be continuously monitored to make sure it’s safe.

Arlington County, Fairfax County and D.C. all get water from the Washington Aqueduct, which is run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. During the process, the Corps switches its system disinfectant from chloramine to chlorine, and also adds a corrosion inhibitor to prevent the release of lead.

All of this makes the water smell and taste a little different.

If the smell and taste bother you, Arlington said to run the cold water tap for about two minutes before use, employ a filter system or let the water sit in a container for an hour or two to allow the chlorine smell and taste to dissipate.

And if you see an open fire hydrant, don’t worry: That’s part of the process too.

More information on the water systems is online:

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Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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