Drink Tap Water

Safe, Clean, Sustainable, Inexpensive

Big myth: that bottled water is safer than water from the tap. Utility water service like Arlington's meets stringent federal and state standards and is tested several times a day. Bottled water may not even be tested or, as is often the case, may actually be sourced from a municipal tap system.

Factor in the ecological impact of bottles plus shipping and tap water is the clear way to go, especially in cost per gallon. Bottled water is about 3,000% more expensive. Conserving water for smaller bills is easy too.

Arlington’s drinking water meets all federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) safety standards.

As always, if customers have special health concerns, they may want to consider extra precautions. 

How is safe drinking water ensured in the system?

We work with the Washington Aqueduct and our partners at DC Water and the City of Falls Church to ensure that our treatment plants are producing water in compliance with all existing regulations and that we’re positioned to address forthcoming regulations. Starting in 2000, there has been significant improvement in water quality due to replacing the disinfectant-free chlorine with chloramine. This change resulted in significant reductions in disinfection byproduct formation.

Why an annual disinfectant switch in the water system?

Every year for approximately six weeks, we switch disinfectants from chloramine back to chlorine to flush out the water distribution system and improve water quality. This is standard practice for many U.S. water systems that use chloramine for most of the year. Learn more about the disinfectant switch.

What are PFAS and what are being done about them?

PFAS are man-made chemicals found for more than 50 years in commercial and household products including cookware, paints, water-repellent fabrics and fire-fighting foams. They can get into lakes, rivers and ground water through industrial and wastewater discharges. The Washington Aqueduct has tested for PFAS and reported results below EPA-standard detection levels. Arlington’s drinking water meets all federal and state safety standards. Water treatment would be adjusted should PFAS regulations change as the result of new research. 

My Water Is Cloudy and/or Milky-Colored. What Should I Do?

This is typically air in the line and is harmless. If you run your water for a short time, it should clear. If not, call 703-228-6555.

My Water Has a Reddish and/or Rusty Tint. What Should I Do?

The reddish tint is iron oxide from the water distribution piping. Sudden changes in the system, such as when a fire hydrant is opened, can stir up the iron oxide sediments and cause temporary discoloration. If you run your water for a short time, it should clear. If not, call 703-228-6555. Even though the water is discolored and has sediments, disinfectants are still present and the water is safe once it clears up.

The reddish water caused a load of laundry to be discolored. What should I do?

Call 703-228-6555 and an operator will have a special laundry detergent delivered to your home. Use this product according to the directions and this will remove the discoloration from the clothes. Keep the clothes wet until the product is delivered.

How Do I Get My Drinking Water Tested?

Contact a private laboratory for individual analysis of your water. We recommend using a lab certified by the state. We continually perform water quality testing in accordance with state and federal regulations. We’re unable to provide testing on an individual basis.

Know Your H2O

The Water, Sewer, Streets Bureau offers a staff presentation about Arlington's drinking water and water system to one school or community group per month. To schedule, email Amani Eisa.