Your Water May Smell Like a Swimming Pool Soon – Fear Not!

chlorine_drinking_water_dc
Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr.TinDC

This year it is March 7th – May 2nd. Last year DC Water explained:

“The annual switch in water disinfection is part of a routine program to clean and maintain drinking water systems in the District of Columbia, Arlington County and the northeastern portion of Fairfax County. During the temporary switch to chlorine, local water authorities will also conduct system-wide flushing to enhance water quality. This program is a common practice for many U.S. water systems that use chloramine during the majority of the year.

The Washington Aqueduct is the organization responsible for treating and disinfecting drinking water for its wholesale customers: DC Water, Arlington County, and Fairfax Water. Local water authorities are responsible for monitoring drinking water to ensure chlorine levels continue to meet safe target levels.

Individuals and business owners who take special precautions to remove chloramine from tap water, such as dialysis centers, medical facilities and aquatic pet owners, should continue to take the same precautions during the temporary switch to chlorine. Most methods for removing chloramine from tap water are effective in removing chlorine. Individuals with special health concerns should consult a health care provider on the use of tap water.

During this time, individuals may notice a slight change in the taste and smell of their drinking water. Local water authorities recommend running the cold water tap for approximately two minutes and refrigerating tap water to reduce the chlorine taste and odor. Water filters are also effective for reducing chlorine taste and odor.

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via DC Water

8 Comment

  • excerpt from this open letter by a water contamination export Erin Brockovich
    http://www.vce.org/ErinBrockovichChloramination.html

    The fact of the matter is chloramines are a terrible mistake. While utility companies often use chloramines as a matter of convenience, there are far safer alternatives. As a world-leading nation, we have to stop cutting corners where our health and safety are at stake.

    Historically, drinking water disinfection with chlorine has been extremely successful in addressing bacterial and viral contamination. It has virtually wiped out waterborne diseases like typhoid fever, cholera, and dysentery. However, chlorine disinfection may also cause health risks. When chlorine is added to the water, it not only kills bacteria and viruses, but it also reacts with other chemicals dissolved in the water to form new compounds, known as disinfection byproducts. Some of these byproducts, such as trihalomethanes, are thought to cause cancer and pose other long-term health risks.

    Chloramine, on the other hand, is a combination of chlorine and ammonia. While chlorine dissipates and evaporates into the air relatively quickly, chloramine is more stable and will last longer in the water system. The goal is to provide increased protection from bacterial contamination. Chloramine also happens to be the cheapest and easiest of the options available to water utilities. Yet even though the use of chloramine is convenient, it may not be safe.

    Studies indicate chloramine causes more rapid deterioration of the municipal infrastructure and degradation of valves and fittings. In water systems that still use lead pipes or components, this causes lead and other metals to leach into drinking water and out of faucets and showerheads. The chemicals themselves may not cost much, but we can’t afford their consequences.

    On top of all these infrastructure and health problems associated with chloramine use, there is growing evidence that chloramine forms toxic byproducts as it disinfects. This also occurs with the use of chlorine, but recent studies indicate the formation of toxic byproducts in drinking water may be higher when utilities use chloramines. These studies also indicate that chloramine causes more dangerous byproducts than other treatment alternatives, such as ozone or chlorine dioxide.

    Disinfection byproducts are created when the compounds used for disinfecting drinking water react with natural organic matter, bromide, or iodide. Research shows that the byproducts are highly toxic to mammalian cells like ours, and they’re known to affect cells’ genetic material, which can cause mutation or cancer. In studies, some of these byproducts, such as iodoacetic acid, have been shown to cause developmental abnormalities in mouse embryos. Other byproducts of chloramine use include the highly toxic human carcinogens hydrazine and N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). Hydrazine is the primary ingredient in rocket fuel and is extremely toxic at very low levels in drinking water. NDMA is also a chemical used in the manufacture of rocket fuels. Both chemicals are a result of the chloramine’s combination of ammonia and chlorine, a potentially deadly cocktail.

    Amazingly, it’s not even clear that chloramine’s benefits are worth these risks. Chloramine is 200 times less effective than chlorine in killing e-coli bacteria, rotaviruses, and polio.

    • Thank you for this. When I moved to DC, I couldn’t stomach the water – I ordered bottled water every time I ate out and drank bottled water at home. It was far worse tasting than water in the four other cities I’ve lived in, including NYC, Chicago and Boston. I gradually got used to it, but I was just away for weeks, and it tasted terrible upon my return, as I got used to better water again. I fear the damage may have been done, as I gradually got used to it over the past decade, but this reminds me that my initial aversion to the water here was likely a healthy response. If you read the small print in the poster above, it isn’t safe for fish. And us? Likely not either.

      I’m wondering if anyone knows of ways to remove chlorine/chloramine from the water?

      • I agree that DC water is poor quality! The tap water in my home reeks of chemicals and cannot be drunk! I have also noticed that since moving to DC, my hair and skin stay perpetually dry. I finally ponied up the money for a whole-home water filtration system. After the plumber installs it, I hope I can tell a difference!

        • I hate to tell you this, but your water is 100% chemicals.

          • Yes, I hear DC’s water has high levels of dihydrogen oxide.

            But seriously, we use a shower head water filter, and it is fairly effective this time of year.

          • Meh, mine tastes pretty good. I drink straight out of the tap though usually fill a few bottles and leave them uncovered on the counter for 30 mins for any chemical smells to evaporate.

      • Yeah, DC’s water has always been pretty disgusting. WASA is essentially the equivalent of Metro when it comes to safety, service, etc. But, hey, at least we aren’t getting lead poisoning like we were 10 years ago.

  • Before Flint, there was a lead scare in Washington, D.C. in 2004. The city’s tap water contained as much as 30 times the acceptable levels of lead. The explanation for that increase is that Washington’s water treatment facilities began disinfecting water with chloramine instead of chlorine. Chloramine is the compound that causes the pipes to leach lead into the water supply. It is a compound of chlorine and ammonia that is easier to handle and much more stable than chlorine. It is also cheaper. Chloramine is now used in about 20% of the American drinking water systems

    – See more at: https://scriggler.com/SharePost/Opinion?cash=ce6324af9e72491114e12ad3143a7327#sthash.LhQRPB16.dpuf

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