BCWA to begin flushing water mains

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Bristol County Water Authority customers may soon notice brownish water, reduced pressure or sediment in their lines. It’s normal, as crews are undertaking their annual flushing of water mains.

Flushing removes sediment and corrosion products that settle in cast iron mains over time. The authority’s distribution system includes approximately 230 miles of water pipes, and 1,000 fire hydrants. Flushing involves the systematic opening and closing of hydrants, one section of main at a time, to force the water through the pipes at high velocity, removing accumulated mineral sediment until the water is clear. The operation can take from a few minutes to over an hour, although most last about 10 minutes.

Residents in the immediate vicinity of the flushing may notice a slight drop in water pressure, cloudy water from air in the lines or sediment in the water. Flushing operations may also lead to discolored water, which can be drawn into homes and businesses if the water is being used during or immediately following the flushing. Such events should affect customers for a few hours at most.

The discoloration is caused by iron (red color) or manganese (black color) particles being dislodged from the water main, which can stain porcelain and laundry. Try to avoid using water or doing laundry if flushing is occurring nearby. If discoloration occurs, open the cold tap nearest the water meter, usually a basement sink, to full flow until the water runs clear. In some situations this may take 5 to 10 minutes. At BCWA, flushing is performed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. so disruption is kept to a minimum.

The flushing schedule is as follows:

Barrington: Ongoing, through May 8

Warren: May 6 to 15
Bristol: May 13 to June 12

For more information or questions, call the BCWA at 245-2022. Also, the authority’s emergency number is 245-5071.

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