Annual Water Main Flushing
2015 Water Main Flushing
Each spring Fairfax Water flushes its water mains by opening fire hydrants and allowing them to flow freely for a short period of time. We do this to maintain the high water quality in our distribution system.
In the area of our system that is served by the Washington Aqueduct (the former City of Falls Church water-system service area), you will likely notice Fairfax Water personnel in your neighborhood operating hydrants from mid-March through April. In the remainder of our system, you will likely notice Fairfax Water personnel in your neighborhood operating hydrants from April through June.
You will be able to recognize our employees by a number of identifiers:
- Our employees will be driving vehicles identified with the Fairfax Water logo.
- Our employees will be displaying a sign that identifies the employee as part of the Fairfax Water flushing program.
- Our employees will be wearing uniforms with the same Fairfax Water logo.
Flushing may result in temporary discoloration and the presence of sediment in your water. These conditions are not harmful and should be of very short duration. Keeping an open container of drinking water in the refrigerator allows the chlorine to dissipate, which usually improves the taste of the water.
If you have questions about this program or the work being conducted in your area, you may call our dispatch operator any time of the day or night at 703-698-5613, TTY 711.
Temporary Change to Free
During this flushing period, a slight change is made in the water treatment process to facilitate an effective flushing program. Throughout the year, chloramines, also known as combined chlorine, is added to the water as the primary disinfectant. During the spring flushing program, chlorine is added in an uncombined state, commonly referred to as free chlorine. Free chlorine is somewhat more volatile than combined, which allows it to react with sediments suspended during flushing.
Depending on your usage patterns and location within the distribution system, it could take up to a week for your drinking water to transition from combined to free chlorine at the beginning of the flushing season (mid-March or April 1st depending on your location), or from free chlorine to combined chlorine at the conclusion of the flushing program (April 30th or July 1st depending on your location)
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.
Please note: If you have an aquarium or pond, throughout the year always test the water you add to your aquatic environment to be sure it is free of chlorine before adding fish or other animals. Chemical additives with directions for removing either free chlorine or chloramines from water for use in fish tanks or ponds are available at pet/fish supply stores. See our Water Quality
FAQ page for additional information.