Frequently Asked Questions
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. For more information
I live in an apartment and my water bill is included in my rent.
How can I receive information concerning my tap 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?
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 “foodgrade”
plastic that will not contaminate the water. Check your local hardware
store for this type of hose.
Can water straight from the tap be used in home kidney dialysis
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.
How are bacteria that can make people sick kept out of drinking
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 be reduced.
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 public health.
Is water with chlorine in it safe to drink?
proven that the amount of chlorinated disinfectants found in drinking
water is safe to drink.
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
All of the strainers in my faucets are clogging with white particles.
What could this be?
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.
Who makes the rules and regulations for drinking water?
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
EPA, the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water administers the
drinking water program under the Public Water Supply Supervision
Program. Their functions include:
the maximum contaminant levels (MCL’s) for contaminants in drinking
water and setting other requirements to ensure that drinking water
primary enforcement responsibilities to the states. Monitoring
state activities to ensure that regulations are being met.
the program in states that have not accepted primary enforcement
for continued research on drinking water contaminants.
technical assistance to the states.
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
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.
Why does tap water sometimes look milky or opaque?
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 comes 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.
Can I store drinking water indefinitely and it continue to be safe
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.
Is it okay to use water from the hot water tap for drinking, cooking,
or making baby formula?
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 water.
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 come from?
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.
What is the white residue sometimes found on items such as coffee
pots, irons, shower doors, glassware, and cookware?
residues are minerals that are found in the water such as calcium.
Over time 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.
Do I need to treat the tap water in any way before I place fish
in an aquarium?
The chlorine that Fairfax Water uses
for disinfection can be harmful to fish if not dechlorinated before placing in your aquarium.
Fairfax Water uses two types of chlorine: free chlorine from April to June as part of our annual
flushing program and chloramines the rest of the year, which is a chlorine and ammonia mixture.
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.
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 Water's laboratory using sophisticated
instrumentation. Results for much of this testing are posted on
Fairfax Water’s website in its Annual Water Quality Report.