Here’s why your tap water might taste or smell a bit different lately

If you’ve noticed your water take on a different taste or smell in D.C. or parts of Northern Virginia over the last few days, it’s (probably) not just you: Authorities are running their routine spring cleaning on the area’s water infrastructure.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Washington Aqueduct, which supplies tap water to the District, Arlington County and northeastern Fairfax County, have temporarily switched their disinfectant from chloramine to chlorine so officials can flush the pipes and bolster water flow.

The annual process will run through May 17 this year, and can make drinking water taste or smell a bit different — a change that’s often noticeable but harmless, DC Water said in a news release.

Officials are monitoring chlorine levels to ensure they remain within safety limits. The aqueduct adds a corrosion inhibitor during this process to prevent the release of lead in aging pipelines.

Utility crews will periodically flush fire hydrants to allow fresh water to flow through the system.

To reduce chlorine taste or odor, DC Water recommends customers run their tap water cold for about two minutes, then refrigerate their water in a container. Several water filter brands can also remove chemical tastes and odors.

If you’d like to learn more, you can — and should— watch DC Water’s dancing mascot Wendy the Water Droplet explain the yearly chlorination of the city’s water system to the tune of Britney Spears’ …Baby One More Time:

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital journalist and editor in June 2018. He is a reporter and photographer focusing on politics, political activism and international affairs.

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