City crews will soon be ‘flushing’ water mains. Why it’s critical for drinking-water quality

The City’s Department of Utilities this week will begin a project to “flush” water mains in many areas of the city to help maintain high drinking-water quality for residents.

The process helps to prevent service issues and improves the taste, odor, and color of drinking water, staff said.

“Without flushing, sand, sediment and debris could build up in the system and cause issues,” said Bill Busath, director of the Department of Utilities. “The water we use in flushing our system is an important investment in the quality of the drinking water we deliver to our customers.”

Flushing water mains works by releasing water from fire hydrants, which refreshes older water and removes sediment and deposits from the City’s water distribution system.

To help ensure that water pipes are properly cleaned, City crews carefully control the speed and direction of water being released.

“Most of the City’s drinking water comes from the Sacramento and American rivers.” Busath said. “Although that water is fully treated, sediment and other deposits slowly build up inside the water pipes over time.”

The water used for flushing is dechlorinated and goes back into the river through storm drains.

According to Busath, water flushing is a necessary practice in the drinking water industry and is used by water agencies across the U.S. “It’s a standard part of the drinking water process for systems like ours,” he said.

Busath added that flushing shouldn’t affect a resident’s water supply, although some people may notice discolored water during the process.

“People can run their faucet for several minutes if they notice discolored water,” he said.

Below is a video that shows what the flushing process look like.


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