One week after we first reported that Seattle Public Utilities plans a huge flushing operation intended to lessen the recurring brown-water problems, SPU has settled on where and when it will begin. Word is going out in postal mail today, with a map, announcement, and FAQ. SPU plans to start the flushing the week of April 18th in this area:
That entire area will not be flushed on the same day – it’ll be different neighborhoods on different days (more like, nights) from April through June. Here’s the text of the letter that will accompany the map:
Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) will begin flushing water mains in West Seattle starting the week of April 18, 2016. The map on the back of this page shows the area in purple that will be flushed first (from April through June). Eventually more water mains throughout West Seattle neighborhoods will be flushed, which will take several months to complete.
SPU is performing this major water-main flush to help maintain water quality and reduce the uptick in discolored water that some West Seattle customers have been experiencing since last summer. Flushing won’t eliminate discolored water, but it will help decrease it.
What do customers need to do? Residents and businesses do not need to take any action to prepare for this work. Customers will be able to use their water as usual. When crews are flushing nearby, customers may notice a slight reduction in their water pressure. They may also see temporary discolored water, which should clear quickly once crews are done flushing the water main. Running the cold water for a few minutes can also help clear the discoloration.
Why does discolored water occur? Discolored water can happen when crews operate a fire hydrant, when there is a water main break or leak, or when the water in the pipes is forced to travel in a different direction than normal. When one of these events happens, naturally occurring sediment in the water and rust in the pipes get stirred up, causing the water to look discolored.
Flushing the water mains will remove some of the sediment and rust that has been resting in the pipes. This will help reduce the level of discoloration and the time it takes for the water to clear when there’s a disturbance in the pipes.
Is the water safe? Yes. Every single day, SPU takes samples throughout the system of the drinking water that it provides to 1.4 million people. The water is tested for contaminants and is regulated by the Washington State Department of Health. Seattle’s water remains safe to drink.
Questions or concerns: If you have any questions or concerns about the flushing process or discolored water, please read through the “Frequently Asked Questions” sheet that is enclosed with this mailing. If you experience any problems with your water, contact SPU’s 24-hour emergency line at 206-386-1800.
We thank you for your patience and understanding while SPU strives to continue to provide some of our nation’s best drinking water.
Also being mailed with the map and letter, a two-page list of Frequently Asked Questions and answers – read them here. And in the meantime, if you get discolored water, wherever you are, whenever it happens, SPU wants to hear from you at that same number, above, the one we’ve been publishing in brown-water coverage since last fall.