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Fairfax County’s annual flush begins, changing water color and taste

Fire hydrant (via Fairfax County)

Your drinking water could see some changes — differences that water officials say are harmless.

Fairfax Water started its annual flushing program today (Monday). Instead of its usual practice of disinfecting the supply with chloramine, it will temporarily stop adding ammonia to drinking water in an effort to maintain the system’s quality.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates utility chemical levels, says both chlorine and chloramine disinfectants are safe to drink and help kill germs.

While the U.S. has chlorinated drinking water since the early 20th century, it can create harmful effects called disinfection byproducts, so many utilities have shifted to using chloramines, which are less aggressive over the long term.

Fairfax Water shared some tips to handle the changes in drinking water:

You may notice a chlorine taste and odor in your drinking water while free chlorine is utilized. If you are especially sensitive to the taste and odor of chlorine, try keeping an open container of drinking water in your refrigerator. This will enable the chlorine to dissipate, thus reducing the chlorine taste. Remember – drinking water has a shelf life! Change out the water in your refrigerated container weekly.

The flushing period will last through June 13 for most of Fairfax County. McLean, Merrifield, and nearby areas will have the process end on May 9.

The changes involve Washington Aqueduct customers throughout the region. Water for the area comes from the Occoquan Reservoir and Potomac River.

Photo via Fairfax County

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