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It’s that time of year – Your Water May Smell Like a Swimming Pool – Fear Not!

by Prince Of Petworth April 12, 2017 at 9:30 am 11 Comments

pool water
Photo by PoPville flickr user Chabelamarie

From DC Water:

“From March 20 through April 17, 2017, the disinfectant in drinking water will temporarily switch from chloramine to chlorine. During this time, you may notice a slight change in the taste and smell of your drinking water.

DC Water purchases treated drinking water from the Washington Aqueduct. Every year for four to five weeks, the Aqueduct switches disinfectants from chloramine back to chlorine to flush out the water distribution system and improve water quality. During the temporary switch, DC Water will also conduct system-wide 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.

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

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.

For more information, please review our FAQ or contact DC Water at 202-612-3440 (Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.) or 202-612-3400 (24-hour).”

  • Anon

    Water quality in DC has steadily increased since I started living here in 2003. Great job, DCwater!

  • John B.

    Haven’t noticed any difference in taste or smell, but has anybody else noticed that the “texture” of the water seems to have changed in the last few days? Not exactly sure how to describe it but when I take a shower the water seems softer than usual (if you’ve ever showered with softened water, you know what I’m talking about).

    • cx20020

      I noticed the smell and it actually seemed more gritty- almost like hard water! I had a guest this past weekend, and immediately he also said the water in the shower felt ‘hard’, too.

  • Truxton Thomas

    Definitely noticed the smell a couple weeks ago.

  • textdoc

    Love the photo — the dog looks overjoyed!

  • RVAtoDC

    Thank you for posting about this. The smell and taste has been bugging me for a few weeks. My husband doesn’t notice it, which I find odd. I can really tell the difference.

    • Elvis’s Mom

      Me, too. I think some of us are just more sensitive than others to the smell. I am happy this will be over soon as I also feel like I smell chlorine-y after I shower.

  • Anonymous

    I was going to say, I noticed this weeks ago, and indeed the announcement says it started March 20.

  • andy2

    I always look forward to this post and then the one about the trees in distress because they have flowers blooming on the branches/trunks.

  • asdf

    Glad I read this, because I thought I was going crazy. I noticed the chlorine smell weeks ago, and my skin has been feeling dryer than usual (like after swimming in a pool). Wouldn’t this also have a bleaching affect on clothing while doing laundry? I’m surprised I’ve only ever heard of this today. Isn’t this information that would be publicized widely?

  • Blithe

    Thanks for posting this! About a week or so ago, I noticed that the water smelled funny — in a way that I couldn’t identify. I had a few concerned “Flint” thoughts, and bought bottled water for a few days, until I didn’t notice the smell anymore.

    Also: Great picture! That picture looks like what I want my summer to feel like!


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