After a flurry of discolored-water reports started flowing in last night after 9 pm, we promised to follow up today with Seattle Public Utilities. The response is just in from spokesperson Ingrid Goodwin:
SPU crews conducted two hydrant flow tests last night in West Seattle: one in the vicinity of 48th Ave. SW and Waite St, and the other one on Delridge Way. The hydrant tests are a mandated requirement by the City of Seattle for new construction projects.
As you know, any time there is a disturbance in the water main, discolored water can happen. Last night’s hydrant tests caused discolored water for some customers in those areas where the tests took place. Since last night, SPU has received about 50 calls from customers in West Seattle related to discolored water.
SPU does not typically notify customers in advance about routine, day-to-day maintenance work that crews complete quickly and has a low impact or no impact on customers. However, we understand that many West Seattle residents are acutely aware of discolored water, have been experiencing persistent problems since last summer and want to be informed when SPU knows there might be a disturbance in the water system. SPU needs to do a better job communicating in advance to customers when we know there is planned, day-to-day work by SPU crews that can cause discolored water. We are working on developing and implementing a method to do so soon.
The unidirectional flushing that is scheduled to begin in a couple of weeks will not eliminate discolored water, but will help reduce the intensity and duration of discolored water when it does occur. SPU will be sending customers information explaining the work, an FAQ that will answer some questions and a map that shows the areas that will be flushed. Customers, who live in West Seattle neighborhoods where the flushing will start in April, should look for a mailing from SPU to arrive next week.
We had first word of the “unidirectional flushing” plan in this story last Thursday.