What is flushing?
Why is flushing necessary?
The Department of Public Utilities is conducting a comprehensive water line flushing program throughout the city. Flushing is a process that rapidly removes water from the city's water piping system, similar to the process of flushing a car's radiator. Flushing uses water force to scour out materials that accumulate in the city's pipes. Water pipes are usually flushed by opening fire hydrants, where the discharged water flows off the streets the same as rainwater.
Imagine driving down the road at less than 1-1/2 miles per hour. That's about the rate that water moves through underground pipes. This slow movement causes sediment like rust and mineral particles to build up over time and accumulate along the pipe's bottom. A build up of bacteria known as "biofilm" can also coat the pipe's inner surface. This combination of sediment and bacteria can restrict water flow in the pipes and contribute to the pipe corroding.
Isn't flushing a waste of water?
Rapid water pressure changes, such as water main breaks and the use of fire hydrants, can stir up the sediment and dislodge deposits lining the pipe, resulting in "dirty water" appearance. Periodically flushing water pipes removes the sediment and biofilm buildup, maintains our city's infrastructure and assures consistent good quality water.
No. Any overall increase in the amount of water used in flushing is a small price to pay in maintaining water quality and the integrity of the piping system.
How will this affect me?
What should I do if I turned on a faucet and the water coming out is discolored?
Usually, you will not be aware that flushing is even taking place in your neighborhood. Flushing is generally conducted between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Approximately half of the city's fire hydrants will be opened to flush the water pipes. It takes about 30 minutes to flush each hydrant. While the hydrant is being flushed, the homes on that block may experience discolored water or a drop in water pressure. Your water service should not be interrupted. If you have no water pressure, please notify Public Utilities at 385-1400. The only sign that a crew has been in your neighborhood may be standing water in the roadway.
Public Utilities previously conducted flushing in the middle of the night, but has been successful at conducting the flushing during normal working hours. Flushing during daylight hours reduces the city's labor expenses and allows for easier identification of valves and hydrants.
Public Utilities is also conducting flushing during daytime hours on a case-by-case basis. Flushing during daylight hours reduces the city's labor expenses and allows for easier identification of valves and hydrants.
Should a reddish, yellow, or brown tint to the water appear, do not be alarmed. It is recommended you do not use the water or do laundry for about two hours; this will give the sediment time to settle. After you have waited for this time period, run your faucets for about five minutes to make sure the water is clear.
If the water does not clear within a couple of hours, notify the Department of Public Utilities, Operations Division, by calling (757) 385-1400 (TTY: 711), Monday - Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., or 311 or (757) 385-3111 after normal business hours, weekends or on holidays.