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Washington Aqueduct Makes Annual Disinfectant Switch

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By Sabri Ben-Achour

The Washington Aqueduct, the source of drinking water for much of the area, says customers may notice changes as it makes it's yearly switch of water disinfectants.

As it does every year, the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority has been flushing out the pipes since February, in D.C. and parts of Northern Virginia, letting fire hydrants flow onto the streets. It has also switched disinfectants, from the chlorine-nitrogen compound called chloramine to pure chlorine.

"it's a stronger oxidant, to kill any bacteria it may encounter in the distribution system," says Tom Jacobus, head of the Washington Aqueduct.

Jacobus says if chlorine is used over too long a period of time, it can start to make what are called disinfection byproducts, harmful chemicals which the Environmental Protection Agency would rather people not drink. So next week, the Aqueduct is switching back to Chloramine.

Jacobus says customers might notice a change.

"By the end of next week, anybody who had been tasting a bit of chlorine or odor when they shower, that should go away," he says.

Jacobus says aquarium owners will need to use special tablets to remove the chloramine. It's toxic to fish and unlike chlorine, it does not naturally diffuse out of water that's been sitting out for a few days.

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