Asked Questions are divided up into three subject areas. Please
click on the appropriate link below. If you cannot find the
information you are looking for, please call us at 703-698-5600.
We will be happy to assist you.
1. Why is my bill so high?
Leaks are often the culprit, and toilet leaks are the most common
type. A single "running" toilet can quietly waste over
1,000 gallons of water in a single day. Fortunately, repairing toilet
leaks is usually easy and inexpensive. Checking for leaks elsewhere
in your plumbing system might reveal other sources of water loss.
In many cases, high bills are a result of increased water use. Changes
in outdoor water use, such as watering a new lawn or using a new
sprinkler system, are usually responsible for large increases. Reading
your water meter before and after watering can help you identify
how much you are using. Our tips can help you use water wisely and
reduce future bills.
Although we read our meters with a high degree of accuracy, sometimes
we make mistakes. If you suspect that we have misread the meter,
please call our Customer Service department at (703) 698-5800. We
will gladly check the reading and make any necessary billing corrections.
2. What are the charges on my
Initial bills include a one-time Account Charge of
$35.00. This charge only appears on the first bill. For information
about this and other charges appearing on your bill, click on the
charge in question on our explanatory sample bill.
3. Is there any relief from
high bills caused by leaks?
As a courtesy, we offer a one-time adjustment for
unusually high water charges caused by leaks.
To be eligible for adjustment, the Customer must:
(1) promptly and properly repair the leak when detected;
(2) provide written proof of repairs to Fairfax Water in the form
of copies of receipts or an invoice; and
(3) not have received a Courtesy Leak Adjustment from Fairfax Water during the preceding five years.
Please use this form to submit the required information.
You may mail the completed form to:
8570 Executive Park Avenue
Fairfax, VA 22031
You may fax it to: (703) 289-6133
Or you may email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
You should receive a response to your request within
two weeks. Most leak adjustments are calculated by crediting charges
for 2/3 of the estimated water loss. Adjustments for a leaking water
service lateral (the line running from the meter to the house) are
calculated to credit 100% of the estimated water loss.
4. How often do you bill?
Residential and commercial customers are billed every
5. What is your payment address?
PO Box 71076
Charlotte, NC 28272-1076
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1. Why is my water off?
Although service interruptions are rare, they can be caused by water
main breaks, power outages, nonpayment of bills, and, during extended
periods of sub-freezing temperatures, frozen water meters. Please
call our Customer Service department at (703) 698-5800 if you are
without water. Our after hours number is (703) 698-5613.
2. How much notice do you need
to set up water service?
One business day. For more information, see
Turning On Service.
3. Can you help me determine
if I have a leak?
Yes. If our description of how to
check for leaks
has not resolved the question for you, you can call our Customer
Service department at (703) 698-5800.
4. Can you recommend a plumber?
We do not endorse or keep an "approved list"
of plumbers. We recommend that you carefully select a plumber by
checking references, comparing prices, and using information available
from consumer affairs organizations.
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1. How "hard" is our water?
Typically, our water is "moderately hard" to "hard"
(5 - 10 grains per gallon, or 84 - 170 mg/l).
Click here for more
information about water hardness.
2. Is the fluoride in my drinking water
amounts, added and naturally occurring fluoride has improved the
dental health of American consumers. Fairfax Water’s current
treatment target is 0.7 mg/L of fluoride.
3. I live in an apartment
and my water bill is included in my rent. How can I
receive information concerning my tap water?
Fairfax Water publishes several information fliers
that are included within the bill. Talk to your apartment manager
and ask that any included information be posted for everyone to
read. In addition, Fairfax Water's Annual Water Quality Report is
sent to all addresses within our distribution system regardless
if a bill is received at the address.
4. Is it safe to
drink water from a garden hose?
Substances used in vinyl garden hoses to keep them
flexible can get into the water as it passes through the hose.
These substances are not good for you or your pets. There are hoses
made with “food–grade” plastic that will not contaminate
the water. Check your local hardware store for this type of hose.
5. Can water straight
from the tap be used in home kidney dialysis machines?
Tap water must go through further treatment in order
to be used in a dialysis machine. Because the water comes
into close contact with a patient’s blood, several substances
like aluminum, fluoride, and chloramines must be removed from the
water before it can be used.
6. How are bacteria that
can make people sick kept out of drinking water?
Chemicals called disinfectants are added to drinking
water at the treatment plant. Fairfax Water’s primary disinfectant
is chlorine and its chemical compounds. Chloramine, the combination
of ammonia and chlorine, form a stable bond that keeps a disinfectant
residual throughout the entire distribution system. During the spring
months, Fairfax Water performs its annual flushing. While that program
is in progress, the disinfectant is changed to free chlorine. Free
Chorine is an aggressive disinfectant that aids in the disinfection
of the flushed water mains. Fairfax Water is also beginning to utilize
ozone as a disinfectant. The use of ozone will allow the amount
of chloramine and free chlorine added in the treatment process to
7. Is the amount of chemicals
found in the drinking water harmful?
In fact some chemicals like fluoride are added to
the drinking water to directly benefit the consumer. Minerals may
also be beneficial and many chemicals have no adverse effects on
8. Is water with chlorine
in it safe to drink?
Testing has proven that the amount of chlorinated
disinfectants found in drinking water is safe to drink.
9. I sometimes get a pink
stain on my bathroom fixtures, and in my pet’s water bowl.
What is it and how do I get rid of it?
The pink stain (sometimes slimy in the way it feels)
is generally a mixture of non-pathogenic bacteria. These bacteria
are believed to be airborne and multiply in damp environments. Commercial
cleansers containing bleach are effective in killing the bacteria
and getting rid of the stain.
10. All of the strainers
in my faucets are clogging with white particles. What could
These white particles are very likely to be pieces
of the dip tube from your hot water heater. Several brands of hot
water heaters manufactured in the 1980’s were made using a
faulty dip tube that disintegrates over time. The dip tube carries
the cold water from the top of the hot water heater to the bottom,
where the cold water is heated. Over time, the dip tube disintegrates
and the white dip tube particles are carried through the household
pipes. If the particles are large enough they are caught in the
strainers of the sink faucets or showerheads. Since it is only a
hot water concern, these particles will only be found in places
where hot water travels; so the toilet bowls and tanks, and automatic
ice maker will not contain these particles if indeed they are from
the dip tube. If you are experiencing a problem of this nature,
call the manufacturer of your hot water heater for further information.
11. Who makes the rules
and regulations for drinking water?
Regulations are made by both federal and state agencies.
The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) passed by Congress in 1974 and
amended in 1986 and 1996 is governed by the United States Environmental
Protection Agency (USEPA)
Within the EPA, the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water administers
the drinking water program under the Public Water Supply Supervision
Program. Their functions include:
* Setting the maximum contaminant levels (MCL’s) for contaminants
in drinking water and setting other requirements to ensure that
drinking water is safe.
* Delegating primary enforcement responsibilities to the states.
Monitoring state activities to ensure that regulations are being
* Operating the program in states that have not accepted primary
* Providing for continued research on drinking water contaminants.
* Providing technical assistance to the states.
* Provided for in the SDWA, is the intent that states accept primary
responsibility for enforcement of the states drinking water program
(primacy). Under these provisions, each state must establish requirements
for public water systems at least as stringent as those set by the
EPA. In Virginia, the agency is the Virginia Department of Health.
In addition to the SDWA, the EPA has promulgated several specific
rules to address various types of water contaminant problems.
Some of these rules are: Surface Water Treatment Rule, Total Coliform
Rule, and the Lead and Copper Rule.
12. Why does tap water
sometimes look milky or opaque?
During the time of year when the water coming into
the house is colder than the temperature inside the house, this
phenomenon can occur. Cold water holds more oxygen than warm water
does, consequently when the cold water from the water mains outside
come inside our warm homes, and the water begins to warm, the oxygen
has to escape. It does so by bubbling out in air bubbles which makes
the water look milky. A visual example of this is to run water into
a clear container and observe for a short time. If the water clears
from the bottom to the top of the container then the phenomenon
described is occurring. The air bubbles are moving from the bottom
to the top of the container to escape into the open atmosphere.
Click here for more information including
a visual presentation.
13. Can I store drinking
water indefinitely and it continue to be safe to drink?
The disinfectant in drinking water will eventually
dissipate even in a closed container. If that container housed bacteria
prior to filling up with the tap water the bacteria may continue
to grow once the disinfectant has dissipated. Some experts believe
that water could be stored up to six months before needing to be
replaced. Refrigeration will help slow the bacterial growth.
14. Is it okay to use
water from the hot water tap for drinking, cooking, or making baby
Hot water generally comes from a hot water heater
that may contain impurities that should not be ingested. Some of
these impurities might be metals from household plumbing that are
concentrated in the heating process. Additionally, these impurities
from the household plumbing dissolve more rapidly in hot water than
cold water causing the amount of impurities to be higher in hot
15. Sometimes ice cubes
made from the tap water, or the melted water from ice cubes contains
white particles. What are these particles and where do they
Ice cubes freeze from the outside in. Ice is formed
from pure water (hydrogen and oxygen) therefore the minerals such
as calcium and magnesium normally found in the water sometimes end
up as visible particulates in the core of the ice cube. The white
particles are not toxic.
16. What is the white
residue sometimes found on items such as coffee pots, irons, shower
doors, glassware, and cookware?
The white residues are minerals that are found in the water such
as calcium. Overtime and repeated water use there may be a build-up
of the minerals on any item the water comes in contact with. There
are commercial products that can be purchased to rid the surface
of mineral build-up.
17. Do I need to treat the tap
water in any way before I place fish in an aquarium?
Fairfax Water uses chlorine for disinfection purposes,
which can be harmful to fish if not dechlorinated prior to placing
fish in it. Fairfax Water utilizes two types of chlorine, free chlorine
and chloramines (chlorine and ammonia mixture). Chloramines are
normally used July - March, and free chlorine is generally used
- June. Free chlorine and chloramine dechlorination is performed
differently. Chemical additives with directions for dechlorinating
either free chlorine or chloramine from water for use in fish tanks
or ponds are available at pet/fish supply stores.
18. How is the water tested,
and by whom?
Fairfax Water’s Water Quality Laboratory, a
state certified laboratory, performs or manages the testing required
by State and Federal regulations. In addition to regulatory testing
many other analyses are performed to monitor the water quality of
the Authority’s raw sources, water within the treatment process,
as well as within the distribution system. Water undergoing the
treatment process is continuously monitored for pH, turbidity, coagulation
efficiency, and disinfectant residuals through technically advanced
on-line monitoring systems. Other testing, such as chlorine, pH,
and temperature, is performed at the sample location site with portable
instrumentation. The majority of the regulatory and water quality
monitoring testing performed, which include Organic, Inorganic,
Metals, and Bacteriological testing, are conducted at Fairfax
laboratory using sophisticated instrumentation. Results for much
of this testing are posted on Fairfax Water's website in its Annual
Water Quality Report.
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