News Feature | March 19, 2014

Spring Cleaning: Capital Switches From Chloramine To Chlorine

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

WashingtonDC

As the capital undergoes a major chlorine cleanse, utilities are alerting customers that tap water may taste a bit odd. 

"The Washington Aqueduct, which supplies water wholesale to DC Water, Arlington County and Fairfax Water, will switch to chlorine from its usual disinfectant, chloramine, as part of a routine program to clean the drinking water system," the Washington Post reported, citing utility officials. 

The switch will occur in the spring for a little over a month. In the meantime, utility officials have launched a campaign to educate ratepayers about the switch, offering advice on how to mitigate the chlorine taste in their drinking water. 

"Running the cold tap for two minutes, refrigerating tap water or using a water filter will reduce the chlorine taste and odor, according to DC Water. Utilities will monitor drinking water to ensure the chlorine remains at a safe level," the report said. 

Officials also communicated with hospitals and other facilities that take special care to remove chloramine for their tap water, explaining that they should not stop doing so. They explained "that most methods for removing chloramine from tap water also remove chlorine, but people with special health concerns should consult a health care provider," the Post explained.

Chloramine is expected to return with little fanfare after the cleanse period, as is routine for this procedure. But that does not mean this disinfectant is free of controversy. 

One group, United Citizens for Better Water, advocates against the use of chloramine, which is a combination of chlorine and ammonia, according to KRBD.

United Citizens for Better Water, based in Alaska, "is collecting signatures for a proposed ballot initiative that would prohibit the city from using chloramine.

The non-profit Citizens Concerned About Chloramine says that "THMs are formed with chloramine disinfection...THMs are possible but not proven cancer causing byproducts."

What does the EPA say about chloramines? "Chloraminated water that meets EPA regulatory standards is safe to use for drinking and cooking," according to the agency.

Image credit: "Washington DC,"eGuide Travel © 2011, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

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