Why your DC tap water may have a different taste and smell - and how to reduce it

Have you noticed a change in the taste and smell of your drinking water in D.C.? You're not alone.

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According to DC Water, from March 21 through May 9, the disinfectant in drinking water will temporarily switch from chloramine to chlorine. During this time, residents may notice a slight change in the taste and smell of their drinking water.

DC Water purchases treated drinking water from the Washington Aqueduct. Each year, the aqueduct switches disinfectants from chloramine back to chlorine to clean their water distribution system and improve water quality.

During the temporary switch, DC Water will also conduct system-wide hydrant flushing to enhance water quality. This program is a common practice for many U.S. water systems that normally use chloramine throughout the year. The Washington Aqueduct will continue to add a corrosion control inhibitor during this temporary switch to prevent lead release.

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DC Water routinely collects and tests water samples to monitor for chloramine and chlorine levels throughout the city and will continue to do so during this period. You can view the latest test results here. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the safe use of chlorine and chloramine.

To reduce the taste or smell of chlorine, DC Water recommends:

- Run the cold water tap for two minutes.  Run it for five to 10 minutes when water is not used for several hours.

- Refrigerate cold tap water in an open pitcher. Within a few hours, the chlorine taste and odor will disappear.

- Some filters may reduce the chlorine taste and smell. DC Water recommends using devices that are installed at your faucet tap or pitcher-style filters. Use a filter certified to meet NSF standards and replace the filter as recommended by the manufacturer.


For more information, click here.