Bacteria Water

Fairfax Water: Washington Aqueduct use halted has not caused any quality concerns – FFXnow

Getting tap water in a glass (via Swanky Fella on Unsplash)

Fairfax Water customers weren’t affected by the recent Boil Water Advisory that went out to D.C. and Arlington County residents before Independence Day.

The utility, which serves almost 2 million people in Northern Virginia, suspended its use of the Washington Aqueduct early on Wednesday (July 3) before the advisory was issued later that day. Though D.C. and Arlington both lifted the advisory yesterday (Thursday), Fairfax Water says it hasn’t yet resumed getting water from the aqueduct.

“All Fairfax Water customers are receiving water treated by Fairfax Water plants,” Fairfax Water said in a Facebook post on Wednesday. “There are no boil water notices and no restrictions at this time.”

Owned and operated by a divison of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Washington Aqueduct (WAD) collects and purifies river water at two treatment plants in D.C. that supply drinking water to approximately 1 million people in D.C. and Northern Virginia.

The WAD issued a Boil Water Advisory on Wednesday “as a precautionary measure” after seeing an increase in algae blooms that clouded its water, raising public health concerns.

“Turbidity, a measure of water’s cloudiness or clarity, plays a crucial role in assessing water quality,” the Army Corps of Engineers said in a press release. “It is an important factor in water quality, as it can interfere with the effectiveness of water treatment process and impact the color, taste, and smell of drinking water.”

Fairfax Water gets about 5% of its water supply from the WAD, according to public information officer Jesus Aranda. The utility gets most of its water directly from the Potomac River and Occoquan Reservoir, funneling it through the Corbalis treatment plant near Reston and the Griffith treatment plant in Lorton.

Aranda says Fairfax Water was aware of the water turbidity issues facing the WAD, hampering the aqueduct’s ability to treat the 135 million gallons of water per day that it typically processes on average.

“Due to this, the WAD was considering water use restrictions to ensure emergency and fire departments had enough water on-hand,” Aranda said. “We discontinued receiving this percentage from the Aqueduct early on July 3 to ensure the best quality water to our customers and to ease the burden on our partners at the Washington Aqueduct.”

According to Fairfax Water, its treatment plants utilize a disinfection process called ozonation that’s more effective than chlorination at eliminating viruses and bacteria from water. That additional step enables the utility “to continue our service with minimal to no impact on our output due to turbidity,” Aranda says.

Aranda told FFXnow this morning (Friday) that Fairfax Water hasn’t “resumed receiving water from the WAD at this time.” It’s unclear when the utility might start purchasing water from the aqueduct again.

A public nonprofit governed by a 10-person board appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Fairfax Water serves Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, Fort Belvoir, the towns of Vienna and Herndon, and the cities of Fairfax, Falls Church and Alexandria. It’s the largest water utility in Virginia, processing 167 million gallons of water a day.

Photo via Swanky Fella on Unsplash