Here’s who gets flushed first in West Seattle brown-water battle

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:

W Seattle Flush Map Apr 8_FINAL

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.

10 Replies to "Here's who gets flushed first in West Seattle brown-water battle"

  • sam-c April 8, 2016 (7:42 pm)

    Is it just me, or have other people lost water pressure since this business started several months ago?  Like, it takes 4x longer to fill up a stock pot with water to boil.  We have a ‘massage’ setting on the shower; I used to only be able to put up with it for a minute or so on my back, now, it’s the only setting i use to try and get the soap/shampoo out, and it still doesn’t work.  (Have you seen that seinfeld episode? )  Or, have all the faucets gotten clogged up with the &)))&$) stuff they’ve stirred up?  I mean, i’ve lived in this house 10 years and have never been this annoyed by the lame water pressure…

    • chemist April 8, 2016 (7:55 pm)

      It’s possible to have enough stuff stirred up that some debris filters get clogged. They’re typically on the faucet/showerhead as a part of the aerator. There’s also usually a screen on the pressure reducing valve that’s usually where you water service enters the house.

  • tim April 8, 2016 (8:41 pm)

    If your flow seems sub standard I would  start by cleaning out your screens on your faucets. That is usually the culprit. 

    • sam-c April 8, 2016 (9:14 pm)

      Thanks. I’m not very handy, so i was scared i would do more harm than good, but i did take the faucet apart, and sure, enough there was a screen.  A bunch of bits and stuff looked like mustard seeds and ground pepper. May have to take shower head apart too. Thanks

  • RP April 9, 2016 (8:18 am)

    There has been a DRASTIC change in the effectiveness of our dishwasher since our last two brown water incidents.  Any ideas on what to do about that?  

  • Diane April 9, 2016 (12:11 pm)

    thanks for all the info; especially since it’s likely as an apt dweller we will not receive mailer from city; also, based on this map, I’m right on border at 37th/Hinds, so seems we could be impacted for next 6 months???

  • TheKing April 9, 2016 (12:55 pm)

    Brown water on Fauntleroy Crest today. Thought it might be the water heater, it’s both cold and hot. Doesn’t seem to be clearing up. 

    • WSB April 9, 2016 (12:57 pm)

      Please call 206-386-1800 and let them know if you haven’t already. If they say it’s a major problem such as a pipe leak or break somewhere, please consider letting us know so we can follow up – thank you. – TR

  • TheKing April 9, 2016 (1:15 pm)

    I did call the SPU #, they said it’s probably a hydrant that has been used or construction. Advised that it is best to not run the water, at the same time stated it isn’t a health hazard, usually clears in 3 to 8 hours. It looks like Au Jus for French Dip. I don’t care what they say, I wouldn’t let a dog drink it. 

  • Chris April 10, 2016 (12:36 pm)

    You may need to clean the aerators on faucets, clean shower heads.   Every time they flush the fire hydrant out here, we have to do this.   One year we had to do some replacement of hoses under the sink(s) due to the sediment that came through.   Hopefully this will not happen with this flushing.

Sorry, comment time is over.