Washington D.C. Tap Water | Washington D.C. Water Quality – Hydroviv

Problems We Found With Washington, D.C. Drinking Water


Analies Dyjak | Water Nerd   

For Hydroviv's assessment of Washington, DC's tap water, we collected water quality test data from DC Water's annual Consumer Confidence Report and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We cross referenced their water quality data with toxicity studies in scientific and medical literature. The water filters that we sell at Hydroviv are optimized to filter out contaminants that are found in DC's drinking water.

Where Does DC Source Its Drinking Water?

DC Water purchases water from The Washington Aqueduct, which is owned and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Washington Aqueduct draws 140 million gallons of water from the Potomac River everyday. DC Water then properly treats the water before distribution. 

Lead In DC Drinking Water

Lead has been a major problem in DC's drinking water for several decades. DC had a major lead crisis in the early 2000’s, so this contaminant is something we like to look out for. According to this years report, 10% of the samples tested for lead had concentrations over 3 parts per billion. There were 229 samples collected over a monitoring period from January to December, and 5 samples had lead levels over the EPA action level of 15 parts per billion. However, EPA, CDC, and American Academy of Pediatrics all agree that there is no safe level of lead for children. It’s also important to note that many of DC’s homes were built with lead plumbing and lead fixtures, so the relatively small sample size may not necessarily reflect the scope of the lead problem in DC. We've linked a map of the identified lead service lines throughout Washington, DC.  We highly recommend that DC residents take advantage of the city’s free lead test program. To get a free lead test kit, just call 202-612-3440 or email leadtest@dcwater.com.

Disinfection Byproducts in DC Drinking Water

Next is Disinfection byproducts or DBPs. DBPs form when chlorine-based disinfectants react with organic matter in incoming water. DBPs are split into two categories: Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Haloacetic Acids-5 (HAA5). Concentrations of TTHMs averaged 49 parts per billion, but levels were detected as high as 82 parts per billion in DC water. HAA5 concentrations averaged 31 parts per billion and reached levels as high as 49 parts per billion. While Washington D.C.'s water quality is technically still in compliance of loose EPA standards, these levels are definitely high. Disinfection Byproducts are a category of emerging contaminants which means they have been detected in drinking water but the risk to human health is unknown. Regulatory agencies have very little knowledge about the adverse health effects of DBPs, and their toxicity. EPA has stated that they have been linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems.

Chloramine Makes DC Water Taste Bad

While most municipalities use chlorine as the primary drinking water disinfectant, DC disinfects its water with chloramine. Chloramine is primarily responsible for what many customers report as the “bad taste” or “pool smell” of tap water. Unlike chlorine, chloramine does not dissipate if a container of water is left in the refrigerator overnight. Most one-size-fits-all water filters use filtration media that doesn’t do a great job removing chloramine, but the filters that we design and build at Hydroviv for DC use a special filtration media that is purposefully designed to remove chloramine.

Our Water Nerds are on the lookout for other cities to cover. If you would like us to see what's going on in your hometown, please send us an email at hello@hydroviv.com. If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Washington DC's tap water, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com to talk to a Water Nerd on our live chat feature.

Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
Lead Contamination In Drinking Water 
Disinfection Byproducts In Drinking Water: What You Need To Know
Chloramine Vs. Chlorine: What You Need To Know

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  • Analies Dyjak