Hydrant flushing this week – plan for some brown tap water (so check before you wash a load)

This week is 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.

While DPW Superintendent Karen Galligan has told us the brown water is perfectly safe to drink, I think it’s also safe to say most of us would rather not try it!

It’s okay to run cold water while flushing is taking place near you, 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)

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8 years ago

Will the town be releasing a schedule so that we can know when to expect the flushing in our neighborhoods?

I'm just sayin'
8 years ago
Reply to  Beth Melo

Interesting…I was told last year when I called to see what day they would be in our neighborhood that they had a schedule set that they use and for us it would be on Thursdays. I suppose I will call and make sure that hasn’t changed. Not being able to do laundry for a whole week on the off chance that they will be flushing in your neighborhood is not reasonable. They do this every year and so should know when they will be in a neighborhood and how long it will take….and sorry, waiting until after 3:45 is not reasonable, either…and honestly, I do not want that yucky brown water in ANY of my pipes for any length of time, safe or not!

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