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Water Distribution System Flushing
Q. What is water system flushing?
A. Water system flushing (also known as hydrant flushing) is a routine maintenance process that involves the systematic ‘flushing’ of the water distribution lines to remove sediment and improve water quality. When flushing, fire hydrants are opened, increasing the velocity of the water moving through the pipes. This process cleans the pipes and removes the sediments that can affect the taste and color of our drinking water.
Q. Why is flushing needed?
A. Flushing is a routine maintenance process that removes sediment and improves water quality. Without regular flushing, sediment can build up in the pipes and affect the quality, taste and color of our drinking water.
Q. What areas of Fort Collins are being flushed this year?
A. This year, crews will start flushing just west of Overland Trail and move eastward to College Avenue, including some areas in the town of Laporte as the northern boundary and Harmony Road as the approximate southern boundary.
Q. When will crews be flushing in my neighborhood?
A. View our online map at fcgov.com/hydrantflushing for current locations, call 970-212-2900 or V/TDD 711 for details.
Q. How long does the flushing process last?
A. Crews will begin flushing the water system in early April, typically working from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, for approximately eight weeks. When flushing downtown, crews will begin at 5 a.m. in order to be out of the area as quickly as possible.
Q. Where does the water go?
A. After the water is de-chlorinated, it is discharged into the storm drainage system which eventually leads into the Poudre River.
Q. Why isn’t this water stored and reused elsewhere
A. While this is sometimes an option, we currently are not able to transport and/or store the overall volume of water that is needed to flush our distribution system. Fortunately, the water used for flushing accounts for a small portion, approximately 0.35 percent, of Fort Collins’ total annual water use, or a little more than one day’s water use. We make every effort to conserve water where possible and utilize this option when there is an immediate need for water within the city.
To provide more background, a large tanker truck has a capacity of approximately 9,000 gallons and typically can make six to eight trips per day. For comparison, the flushing program uses between .5 to 1.5 million gallons daily to sufficiently cleanse the system. The City does not have any ground storage tanks that the water could be stored in for later use as irrigation water—and, in most cases, this water is removing sediment from the system, making it unsuitable for filling drinking water tanks.
Q. Approximately how much water is used during the flushing process?
A. During the annual flushing process, an average of 20-25 million gallons of water is discharged (typically ranging from .5 to 1.5 million gallons/day). This is about 0.35 percent of Fort Collins’ annual water use, or a little more than 1.5 day's average water use.
Q. How will my water service be affected?
A. The flushing process doesn't typically interrupt water service, but it can happen on occasion. A loss of water pressure is more common. Your water also may appear cloudy or discolored for a short time.
Q. What should I do if my water is cloudy and discolored after the flushing is completed?
A. Wait until the nearby flushing is completed, remove faucet aerators and filters and run your COLD water for 5-10 minutes. If your water still isn’t clear, wait 30 minutes and try again. If you run the water in a bathtub, it speeds up the cleaning process and provides a light background to help you monitor the discoloration. Another option is to run the garden hose, weather permitting, until the water clears. Though discolored, the water can be used on plants and landscape.
- Cloudy: Water gets cloudy when air gets in and makes tiny bubbles. These bubbles are harmless and will disappear if you let the water sit for a few minutes.
- Discolored: Sediments in the water lines get stirred up and may cause a slight water discoloration for a short time.
Q. Can I use my water while crews are flushing in my neighborhood?
A. Please minimize water use while crews are in your neighborhood. To avoid the risk of drawing sediments into your hot water tank, do not use any hot water. Avoid doing laundry during this time as the sediments in the water may cause stains.
Q. Is my water safe to drink?
A. Yes. The sediments that get stirred up may not be aesthetically pleasing and can cause the water to discolor and stain laundry, but they are not harmful.
Q. What should I do if the water stains my laundry?
A. Before drying, rewash the clothes when both the cold and hot water are clear. Non-chlorine bleach (such as Clorox II) may be used to help remove the stains. Do not use chlorine bleach.
Q. Are there other benefits to water system flushing?
A. Flushing is an essential preventative maintenance strategy for our water system and also provides an opportunity to inspect the fire hydrants for operation and safety.
Q. Who can I contact with questions?
A. For additional information, please contact Water Utility Field Operations Supervisor Jim Carder at 970-416-2165 or amNhcmRlckBmY2dvdi5jb20=.
Fort Collins Utilities flushes the water distribution system in early April for approximately eight weeks, weather permitting, weekdays, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hydrant flushing helps maintain water quality and keeps our water fresh.
Crews will start flushing just west of Overland Trail and move eastward to College Avenue, including some areas in the town of Laporte as the northern boundary and Harmony Road as the approximate southern boundary.
View current flushing location.
Please be cautious of people working in the streets and observe traffic diversions.
When flushing, fire hydrants are opened, increasing the velocity of water moving through the pipes. Flushing removes sediments that may affect the water's taste and color and is an essential preventive maintenance strategy for the water distribution system.
While a loss of water pressure is common, the process doesn't typically interrupt water service.
Check out the demonstration video.
Flushing may cause your water to appear cloudy or discolored. Though not harmful, this water may stain laundry. If this occurs:
- wait until the nearby flushing is complete
- remove faucet aerators or filters
- let the COLD water faucet run until the water clears
This water can still be used on plants and landscaping.
Water system flushing uses a minimal amount of water. It's a proactive and essential component of preventive maintenance, allowing crews to assess the condition of the distribution system and fire hydrants during the process.
For more information, contact Utilities.