Next week is the last week of April, and that means it’s time for the annual flushing of the hydrants in Southborough. It will take nearly all week for the DPW to flush all the hydrants in town, and when they’re doing the ones in your neck of the woods, you may notice your tap water running brown.
Brown water may not be so pleasant to look at, but DPW Superintendent Karen Galligan says it’s perfectly safe to drink. (That may be true, but you won’t find me giving it a try.) It’s okay to run cold water while flushing is taking place, but you should avoid running hot water because doing so might pull sediment into your hot water tank. You should also avoid doing laundry because it will stain your clothes.
Here’s some information Galligan provided in past years on why hydrant flushing is important and what to do if your water runs brown:
Even though the water system is designed so that water has several routes to reach any location, generally speaking, most mains tend to flow in one direction. Water travels slowly through the water mains and sediment settles at the bottom of the main. The flushing program reverses the flow of the water in the main. The reverse in flow direction flushes the sediment from the system through the hydrants. We flush the hydrant until the water runs clear.
When a resident uses their water while the main on their street is being flushed they bring the discolored water into their home. The discoloration is just the sediment and it is safe to drink, it just isn’t too appealing (the sediment does have bits of rust, in it). The best way to purge a service of the discolored water is to run cold water until the water runs clear. I suggest using the bathtub faucet because it flows more water. The water should run clear in 10-20 minutes, unless your service is very long, then it may take longer.
If you have aerators on your faucets you might want to rinse them out in case the screen caught any debris. If your hot water is discolored, it means that you pulled the sediment into the water tank. You should flush out your service with the cold water faucets and then, when you are sure you have purged the pipes in your home and everything is running clear, you should run your hot water and try to clear that up.
(Photo posted to flickr by Editor B)