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Media Release - Water main flushing program will clean system


May 30, 2018
Water main flushing program will clean system


As part of ongoing efforts to maintain infrastructure, the City of Powell River will begin a water main flushing program in June in the Townsite.
The program, scheduled to last from June 4 until June 29, is an integral part of an approach to protecting and enhancing the quality and safety of the city's drinking water.
According to Murray Steer, City of Powell River Superintendent of Public Works, flushing is a process that rapidly removes water from the city's piping system, similar to the process of flushing a car's radiator. Flushing uses water velocity to scour out materials that accumulate in the city's pipes.
"Water pipes are usually flushed by opening fire hydrants, where the discharged water is directed through a diffuser, which is designed to remove chlorine and control the flow of water to reduce erosion," Steer said. "The city uses a procedure known as unidirectional flushing, which is superior to traditional flushing techniques, because it allows crews to direct the flow of water and isolate specific sections of pipe, creating more efficient scouring and using less water."
Due to the slow movement of water (less than two kilometers per hour) through underground pipes, sediment such as rust and mineral particles build up over time and accumulate along the pipe's walls to create a biofilm. This sediment can restrict water flow in the pipes and contribute to the pipe corroding. 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 a dirty water appearance.
Periodic flushing of water pipes removes the sediment and biofilm buildup, thereby maintaining the city's infrastructure and assuring consistent, good quality water.
Caution is taken to ensure the process causes as little disruption as possible. When city crews open fire hydrants for flushing, the water is immediately directed towards the storm sewer system to prevent water accumulations or flooding. Storm sewer catch basins will be kept clear, so the water can drain with a minimum of backup.
The city's plan is to make the water main flushing program an annual one. This is the ideal time of year to run the program because water levels are high in the reservoir and people are not into high water usage such as summertime when they are watering their lawns and gardens.
Wade Carter, Waterworks Supervisor, said the goal is to forestall problems and extend the life of the local water mains.
"It's all part of a good water maintenance system," he said. "Often, you will not even be aware that flushing is taking place in your neighborhood."
The plan is to flush the whole water system in the Townsite area. Flushing generally is conducted between 8 am and 4 pm, Monday through Friday. It takes about 30 minutes to flush each hydrant. While the hydrant is being flushed, the homes on that block may experience discoloured water or a drop in water pressure. Problems should be minimal.
Householders should limit or avoid using water during the times when crews are flushing in their area. Discoloured water should not be used for purposes that require clean water, such as food preparation, medical or dental procedures and laundry. Drinking discoloured water should not make people sick or cause adverse health effects. However, it may not smell, look or taste appealing.
It is recommended that residents in affected neighbourhoods do not use the water or do laundry for about two hours after flushing. This will give the sediment time to settle. After two hours, run a cold faucet for about five minutes to make sure the water is clear.
Commercial businesses, such as laundromats, beauty salons, spas, restaurants and hotels, may contact the Public Works Department directly at 604-485-8657 for advance warning of flushing in their areas.
If residents experience little or no water pressure after crews have finished flushing in their area, please contact the City of Powell River Public Works Department at the number listed above.
For more information, contact:
Murray Steer, Superintendent of Public Works
(604) 485-8657




Event date: 
Wednesday, May 30, 2018 - 2:15pm


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