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FAQs

General FAQs

Does Loudoun Water handle garbage collection?
How do I know if the water pressure in my home is correct?
What should I do if I have my own drinking water well?
Is bottled water safe?
Can you help me determine if I have a leak?
Can you recommend a plumber?
What is the hardness of my water?
How can I be sure that the hydrants in my neighborhood will provide adequate protection in case of fire?

 


Billing FAQs

What causes the periodic spikes in my water bill?
Is there any relief from high bills caused by leaks?

 


Service FAQs

Under what conditions would my water be turned off?
How much advanced notice do you need to set up/stop water service?
Can you help me determine if I have a leak?

 


Water Quality FAQs

I've heard reports of pharmaceuticals in drinking water?
How can I be sure that my tap water is safe to drink?
How will I know if my water isnt safe to drink?
I have read about endocrine disruptors in the news recently. Should I be worried about trace amounts of drugs or hormones in my drinking water?
How can I get my water tested?
Who determines how safe drinking water must be and how is safety measured?
I don’t like the taste/smell/appearance of my tap water, could there be something wrong with it?
I am experiencing white specks in my water, or occasionally my faucets are clogged with white chips. What is causing this?
Is the water safe for my baby, for cancer patients and for all populations? What if I have a severely compromised immune system?
Why is my water milky or cloudy? Is it safe to drink and use?
Why does my water smell like chlorine?
What is the hardness of my water?

 


Water Treatment FAQs

Are home water treatment units effective?
How is my drinking water disinfected?
Is fluoride in my drinking water?

 

Wastewater FAQs

How can I prevent sewer backups?
What should I do if I believe my sewer lateral is in need of repair, replacement or location?

 

Fire Flow Test FAQs

How many fire flow tests are conducted per year?
How do I request fire flow test information?
Can I order my own independent flow test?
How long does it take to receive flow test data?
What charges are associated with performing a new flow test?
If a new test is needed, how long will it take to get my results?

 

Q.

Does Loudoun Water handle garbage collection?

A.

 

No, just water and sewer. Many people think because the word sanitation is part of our name, we have something to do with solid waste collection. This is not correct. Sanitation is a word that at one time referred to sewer systems. They were called sanitary sewers, and sometimes, that term is still used. Today, we usually refer to sanitary sewerage as wastewater collection or water reclamation. For information about waste handling or collection, contact the Loudoun County Office of Solid Waste Management at 703.777.0187 or go to http://inter4.loudoun.gov/Default.aspx?tabid=702.

  

Q.

How do I know if the water pressure in my home is correct?

A.

 

The Virginia Department of Health requires water utilities to maintain a minimum water pressure of 20 pounds per square inch (psi) within the distribution system. This ensures adequate pressure throughout your home, but not so much to add stress to your pipes. If the pressure at the service tap exceeds 80 psi, then provisions of the Uniform Statewide Building Code apply, which require the installation of a privately owned and maintained pressure-reducing valve (PRV). Most houses built after 1972 fall into this category and are already equipped with a PRV to keep pressure at or below 80 psi. The PRV is a bell-shaped device, approximately four inches in length, normally located near the main water valve of your home. If the water pressure in your home gets too high, it can cause stress to your pipes, causing them to knock or leak. If this is the case in your home, we recommend you check and if needed, adjust your PRV, or call a plumber to do so. If you do not have a PRV, it is recommended that you install one, as pressure can fluctuate throughout the distribution system.

  

Q.

What should I do if I have my own drinking water well?

A.

 

If you have your own well, you are responsible for making sure that your water is safe to drink. Private wells should be tested annually for coliform bacteria, and other contaminants every 3–5 years. Check with the Loudoun County Health Department at 703.777.0234.

  

Q.

Is bottled water safe?

A.

 

Yes, however, bottled water is not necessarily safer than your tap water. The standards EPA sets for the drinking water we provide are much stricter than the standards set by the Food and Drug Administration for bottled water. Consumers who choose to purchase bottled water should carefully read its label to understand what they are buying, whether it is a better taste, or a certain method of treatment. More information on bottled water is available from the International Bottled Water Association, which represents most U.S. bottlers.

  

Q.

Can you help me determine if I have a leak?

A.

 

Yes, we can help you determine whether you might have a leak and we may even be able to help you locate the leak. We just can't fix it for you. Call us to set up a leak check appointment.

  

Q.

Can you recommend a plumber?

A.

 

We do not endorse any particular plumber. We recommend that you select a plumber by checking references, comparing prices and using information available from consumer affairs organizations.

  

Q.

What is the hardness of my water?

A.

 

The hardness of water is determined by the amount of dissolved
minerals, primarily, calcium and magnesium. Loudoun Water customers receive water that is categorized as moderately hard. Moderately hard water does not seriously interfere with the use of water except in high pressure steam boilers and in some industrial processes.

  

Q.

How can I be sure that the hydrants in my neighborhood will provide adequate protection in case of fire?

A.

 

Loudoun Water conducts fire flow tests as part of the inspections process prior to the home's initial occupancy. Flow tests are performed to measure real-world capacity in the water system, and how it responds to high demands. These tests are generally known as fire flow tests, because the highest demands occur when fighting a fire. A test is performed by selecting three fire hydrants. A pressure gauge is placed on one hydrant, and water pressure is recorded. The remaining two hydrants are opened, allowing water to flow out as fast as possible. Each of these hydrants will flow between 1,000 and 4,000 gallons per minute. The pressure of the first hydrant is recorded again, and a drop in water pressure is measured. The results of a flow test allows design engineers to model their new developments to ensure adequate fire protection. In addition, these tests allow Loudoun Water to monitor water system capacity, ensuring quality service to customers.

  

Q.

What causes the periodic spikes in my water bill?

A.

Outdoor leaks are often the culprit for large, one time spikes in your bill. Silent toilet leaks are another common leak.

  

Q.

Is there any relief from high bills caused by leaks?

A.

We offer a one-time adjustment for unusually high water charges caused by a leak. To be eligible for an adjustment, a customer must first call Loudoun Water to schedule a service call to verify the leak before a repair is made. To apply for this courtesy adjustment, send the following information to Loudoun Water, PO Box 4000, Ashburn, VA, 20146:

  • Your name, address, account number and daytime telephone
    number
  • A description of the type and exact location of the leak(s)
  • Proof of repair, such as a copy of a plumber's bill or a receipt for parts
  • The date the repair was made

We will try to respond within two weeks. For water wasted by damaged service pipe or fixtures, in which your consumption exceeds 130 percent of the average of the last three bills, a one-time adjustment may be made of 100 percent of the amount of excess in a bill due to this cause.


  

Q.

Under what conditions would my water be turned off?

A.

 

Occasionally, your service may be interrupted due to a water main break, a power outage or during long periods of freezing temperatures when meters freeze. Please call customer service if you are without water or call our after-hours emergency number.

  

Q.

How much advanced notice do you need to set up/stop water service?

A.

Just one business day. Call customer service by 2:00 pm the day before.

  

Q.

Can you help me determine if I have a leak?

A.

 

Yes, we can help you determine whether you might have a leak and we may even be able to help you locate the leak. We just can't fix it for you. Call us to set up a leak check appointment.

  

Q.

I've heard reports of pharmaceuticals in drinking water?

A.

As you're likely aware, most of your water comes from Fairfax Water. Here's their statement on how we're addressing pharmaceuticals in drinking water. Some of the information is also below.

Working with regional and national partners, Fairfax Water has developed a testing plan for Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDCs) and Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) in source and treated waters and has begun a year-long testing program.

How do you know what to test?
There are tens of thousands of compounds that are considered EDCs or PPCPs. Fairfax Water carefully considered the most prudent use of its resources in researching a suitable list of compounds. We looked at influences in the Potomac and Occoquan River Watersheds (industrial, agricultural uses, etc.) to determine which compounds are most likely to be present. We then looked at our treatment process to determine which compounds would not be readily removed through treatment. Finally, we looked at which compounds could be measured in water. We chose 19 compounds to test for in the source and treated waters. Samples were sent to an independent laboratory proficient in this type of analysis.

What did you find?
We did not find any traces of compounds in our finished drinking water. As expected, we found very, very small amounts of a few compounds in our source waters, the Potomac River and Occoquan Reservoir. To date, research shows that there is no indication of human health concern at the levels found in our source water. 

Read the statement in its entirety at Fairfax Water's website.

Visit Drink Tap by the American Water Works Association.


  

Q.

How can I be sure that my tap water is safe to drink?

A.

 

Loudoun Water and all water utilities are very closely monitored and must meet stringent federal and state requirements for your drinking water. Assume your tap water is safe to drink unless you hear from us otherwise. You may also review our annual water quality report mailed to customers each year just prior to July 1. If you do not have a copy, or you have questions about the report, call customer service.

  

Q.

How will I know if my water isnt safe to drink?

A.

 

Taste, appearance and odor are not reliable means for determining whether your water is safe. We will notify you by local newspaper, by WTOP radio, and/or TV, if possible, if your water doesn't meet EPA or state standards. We will also attempt to notify you by roadside signage and/or hand-delivered flyers if there is an emergency. Our customer service department will likely extend hours of operation to take your calls during an emergency and that is the best first place to call. Next, listen to WTOP radio (107.7 FM) and look for roadside signs in your neighborhood. Do not rely on TV news or the website during an emergency. We cannot guarantee coverage or accuracy by TV news stations and during emergencies where power may be affected, the web may not be updated in a timely fashion.

  

Q.

I have read about endocrine disruptors in the news recently. Should I be worried about trace amounts of drugs or hormones in my drinking water?

A.

Fairfax Water wants you to know the following information:

Fairfax Water’s primary objective is the protection of public health through the delivery of high-quality drinking water. Fairfax Water, along with water professionals across the nation, is researching the occurrence of personal care products and pharmaceutical compounds in drinking water supplies and is paying close attention to health effects research in this area. We have found there is no evidence of human health concern.

Fairfax Water provides highly advanced treatment for the water we serve our customers. Research has shown that using the combination of ozone and granular activated carbon is very effective in removing broad categories of personal care products and pharmaceuticals. Fairfax Water uses both ozone and granular activated carbon as part of its multi-barrier water treatment approach that also includes coagulation, sedimentation, filtration and disinfection.

To date, there are no approved methods for detecting personal care products and pharmaceuticals in drinking water. Fairfax Water has been actively working with leading researchers to develop an appropriate testing protocol for detection of very low levels for a variety of these compounds.  We are currently developing a testing plan for our source and treated waters. 

As we continue to develop better methods for detection, we will be able to identify more compounds at lower levels. While these compounds may be detected at very low levels in water, people regularly consume or expose themselves to products containing these compounds in much higher concentrations through medicines, food and beverage and other sources. The level in which they are found in water is very small in comparison and does not mean the substance is harmful to humans.

Fairfax Water, along with other water utilities regionally and nationally, is working to advance the science in the area of understanding and treating personal care product and pharmaceuticals.

  • Fairfax Water, along with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and the Washington Aqueduct, founded the Potomac Partnership to study water quality issues in the Potomac watershed.
  • Fairfax Water, along with many water utilities across the nation, has contributed to and participated with the American Water Works Association Research Foundation (AWWARF) to study endocrine disruptors, personal care product and pharmaceuticals. To date, AWWARF has conducted 21 projects totaling approximately $4.9 million.

Fairfax Water will continue to work with regional and national partners to advance the science regarding these issues.


Q.

How can I get my water tested?

A.

 

Please refer to our annual water quality report before you request a test of your water. This report contains information about constituents found in your drinking water and at what level. After you've read this report, you may still wish to test for specific items, such as bacteria or lead, since amounts can vary from house to house. Call customer service to arrange for a field service technician to test your water. Or, you may call your state certification officer to get a list of certified laboratories in Virginia. Depending on how many contaminants you test for, a water test can cost from $15 to hundreds of dollars.

Q.

Who determines how safe drinking water must be and how is safety measured?

A.

 

Under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), EPA sets standards for approximately 90 contaminants in drinking water. For each of these contaminants, EPA sets a legal limit, called a maximum contaminant level, or requires a certain treatment. Water suppliers are prohibited from providing water that doesn't meet these standards. Water that meets these standards is safe to drink.

Q.

I dont like the taste/smell/appearance of my tap water, could there be something wrong with it?

A.

 

Even when water meets EPA's standards, you may still not like its taste, smell, or appearance. EPA sets secondary standards based on these characteristics, which are not health hazards, and water systems and states can choose to adopt them. Common complaints about water include temporary cloudiness (typically caused by air bubbles) or chlorine taste, which can be improved by letting the water sit out exposed to the air.

Q.

I am experiencing white specks in my water, or occasionally my faucets are clogged with white chips. What is causing this?

A.

 

You may have a hot water heater problem. Defective internal dip tubes within your water heater may be the source of the chips. A federal district judge gave approval of a settlement against six national manufacturers of water heaters with defective plastic dip tubes. The manufacturers are Rheem, A.O., Smith, Bradford White, American Water Heater, Lochinvar, and State Industries. Loudoun Water has no involvement in the lawsuit or the process to get reimbursements or benefits from the settlement. For more information, contact your water heater manufacturer.

Q.

Is the water safe for my baby, for cancer patients and for all populations? What if I have a severely compromised immune system?

A.

 

Tap water, though treated to a high degree to meet strict standards, may still reasonably contain trace contaminants. Some people may be more vulnerable to these contaminants than the general population. People with severely compromised immune systems, such as people with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, people who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk for infections. If you or a loved one in your home falls into this category, ask your health care provider about drinking tap water.

Q.

Why is my water milky or cloudy? Is it safe to drink and use?

A.

 

If your tap water appears milky or cloudy, it is usually an indication of air in the system. This just means that somewhere in your area, we are flushing the system or a new line is being installed. Water mains are flushed by opening fire hydrants and allowing them to flow freely for a short period of time. The flushing cleans out sediment, which accumulates normally in the water mains. Another cause of air in the system is cold weather. Your water is still safe to drink and use. Allowing the water to stand for a minute will help clear it.

Q.

Why does my water smell like chlorine?

A.

 

Chlorine is used to disinfect your water. A slight taste of chlorine is a good thing - it means that likely no bacteria are alive in your water. You may notice a more intense chlorine taste and odor in your water when we flush the lines in the spring. This is because during flushing we use a stronger form of chlorine. Keeping an open container of water in the refrigerator for drinking helps dissipate a strong chlorine taste and odor.

Q.

What is the hardness of my water?

A.

 

The hardness of water is determined by the amount of dissolved
minerals, primarily, calcium and magnesium. Loudoun Water customers receive water that is categorized as moderately hard. Moderately hard water does not seriously interfere with the use of water except in high pressure steam boilers and in some industrial processes.

  

Q.

Are home water treatment units effective?

A.

 

Home treatment units may be effective at improving a particular taste or odor issue, however, they do not provide an increased measure of safety. In fact, if the treatment system is not maintained properly, bacteria can grow in the unit and contaminate the water. If you choose to purchase a home water treatment unit, carefully read its product information to understand what you are buying. Be certain to follow the manufacturer's instructions for operation and maintenance, especially changing the filter on a regular basis.

Q.

How is my drinking water disinfected?

A.

Approximately one-third of the water we provide is chlorinated and the other two-thirds is disinfected through an ozone and chlorination combination.

Q.

Is fluoride in my drinking water?

A.

 

Yes, fluoride is added to the central system water to assist with the reduction of tooth decay in young children. Fluoride is not currently added to the drinking water at Lenah Run, Beacon Hill, The Reserve at Rokeby or Raspberry Falls.

On January 7, 2011, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended that water utilities lower the level of fluoride in drinking water.

Fairfax Water wants you to know the following information:

Fairfax Water adds fluoride to drinking water at the request of, and in accordance with recommendations from, federal and state public health agencies. On January 7, 2011, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended that water utilities lower the level of fluoride in drinking water from a range of 1.2 – 0.7 parts per million (ppm) to a single target of 0.7 ppm. Fairfax Water’s current treatment target for fluoride is 0.7 ppm. Fairfax Water stands ready to respond to further guidance from the regulatory community.

For more information about the HHS recommendation, click here. For information from the Environmental Protection Agency regarding fluoride in drinking water, click here. For more information about Fairfax Water’s water quality, click here.

The addition of fluoride to drinking water is a decision that is usually made at a community level. In Fairfax Water's case, we are no different. Fluoride is being added to the drinking water supply at the urging of the State Department of Health and at the request of the communities we serve. Its addition serves no purpose in the water treatment process. It is added to serve a public health goal.

The issues regarding the benefits of adding fluoride to the drinking water have been debated for a number of years. The addition of fluoride to drinking water was identified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as one of the top 10 health achievements of the 20th century. You may read more about CDC's perspective and the history of the fluoridation of drinking water at the following links: http://www.cdc.gov/about/history/tengpha.htm and
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4841a1.htm.

In 2006, the National Academies (NAS) undertook a study of the Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level of Fluoride in drinking water. The study concluded that the Environmental Protection Agency should conduct further evaluations of its Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level for Fluoride (which is 4 parts per million) and that the Primary Maximum Contaminant Level of 2 parts per million is safe. You can learn more about the NAS study at http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11571.

Fairfax Water target for the addition of fluoride is of 0.7 parts per million. You can view Fairfax Water’s data on Fluoride levels in drinking water in our Water Quality Analytical Reports


  

Q.

How can I prevent sewer backups?

A.

It’s a picture too ugly to imagine – the idea of raw sewage flooding your home. If you never want to see that happen, you must protect your sewer line. You can do this by ensuring nothing goes down the drain or flushed into the toilet that shouldn’t be. Items like cooking oil and pan grease should never be poured down the drain, nor should caustic liquid items, such as oven cleaner, or harder items like meat scraps, plastics or metals. Check out Loudoun County's webpage on household hazardous waste disposal.

In the unfortunate case that this happens to you, Loudoun Water reminds customers that homeowners are responsible for any damage to their home caused by a clog in the lateral (which runs from your house to the street) or in the main sewer line in the street. Home insurance policies do not normally cover sewer backups into homes. For most policies, a rider is required. Contact your insurance provider for details on your policy.


Q.What should I do if I believe my sewer lateral is in need of repair, replacement or relocation?
A.Please consult with Loudoun Water's Inspections Department by calling 571.291.7878. In some cases we can assist in determining the location of the sewer lateral. We remind customers that no excavations can proceed without prior consultation with Loudoun Water and Miss Utility. You can contact Miss Utility by dialing 811 or visiting http://va811.com/homeowners.

Q.

How many fire flow tests are conducted per year?

A.

An average of 30 to 40 new flow tests are performed each year to update the water distribution system.


  

Q.

How do I request fire flow test information?

A.

By email is preferred. Please send your request to KWhitten@loudounwater.org.
A written request can also be sent by fax to 571.223.1527 or by mail to Kathleen Whitten, Loudoun Water, PO Box 4000, Ashburn, VA 20146  


  

Q.

Can I order my own independent fire flow test?

A.

No, we own and maintain all of the fire hydrants within our service area. Because of this, independent companies are not allowed to operate hydrants within our jurisdiction.


  

Q.

How long does it take to receive flow test data?

A.

We strive to respond to the flow test request within 2-3 business days, and if possible, send out existing flow test information from previous data that will satisfy the request.

  

Q.

What charges are associated with performing a new flow test?

A.

As of July 1, 2011, there is a $325 charge per new flow test performed.

  

Q.

If a new test is needed, how long will it take to get my results?

A.

The average turnaround time for performing a flow test is six weeks. Please add this time to your schedule.