Changes in the Water Supply can affect the lead in your water

The Washington Post announced Wednesday 3/1/2016 that:

“Drinking water in the District and parts of Northern Virginia could take on a slight smell and taste of chlorine between March 7 and May 2 because of a temporary change in the water-treatment process, D.C. Water officials said Wednesday.” [Washington Post]

They are switching from Chloramine to Chlorine to flush out the system, but it is possible that water supplies will smell like chlorine. If so they recommend:

  • Flush cold water tap for two minutes.
  • Run the cold water tap for five to 10 minutes when water is not used for several hours.
  • Collect and refrigerate cold tap water in an open pitcher. Be sure to collect water after running the
    cold water tap for two minutes. Within a few hours, the chlorine taste and odor will disappear and
    the water will be conveniently cold for drinking.
  • Water filters can reduce chlorine taste and smell. Be sure to use a filter certified to meet National
    Sanitation Foundation (NSF) standards and replace the filter cartridge as recommended by the manufacturer.

Potential Hazards

There are some potential hazards from these changes. For example in the past a change from chlorine to Chloramine lead to lead being flushed out of pipes — which caused major problems to children and others around the district with older plumbing.

It can be harmful to fish.

It can produce disinfection byproducts (DBPs) Disinfection byproducts (DBPs) form when chlorine and other disinfectants react with natural material
found in the Potomac River. These can cause cancers in rare cases.

Perchlorate and Chromium are sometimes suspected to be in our water too. Though the District tests for them. Fluoride is also found, but it is added because the benefits of fluoride to teeth development are still considered higher than the risks.

The district ads orthophosphate to control lead in our pipes. This is intended to minimize the risk of lead being flushed out of older pipes and into the water supply. Even so, in older houses, this risk is still present whenever a change occurs such as construction, repairs or changes are made to the water supply.

If you suspect anything is wrong with your water supply please contact us. We can help you. For information on our environmental services go to either:

Our environmental Services Page

Or fill out our Environmental Services Survey to get more information.