Flushing and Waterline Maintenance
Stafford County Public Works’ Water Department conducts its annual Fall Flushing Program in certain areas of Stafford County from October through November each year.
Flushing allows Stafford County to continue to deliver the highest quality water possible to our customers and ensures adequate water flow is available to firefighters, residents and businesses. The flushing process is a controlled procedure that draws water more forcefully through the distribution system removing the sediment, rust, debris or stagnant water that may have collected in the water mains over the past year.
WHAT TO EXPECT:
- Message boards will be placed throughout each scheduled flushing area to let residents know flushing will be occurring in that neighborhood. The message boards will be set out at least 12 hours before the process begins and will remain there until flushing is complete for that area .
- Utility trucks will be parked in front of the hydrants and crews will control and monitor the entire flushing process. Each hydrant takes approximately one hour to flush.
- During the flushing process, customers may experience a short-term decrease in water pressure or discoloration of water. If you encounter such conditions, run your COLD water for five minutes.
If the discoloration persists for more than six hours, please contact Stafford Public Works at (540) 658-8695.
• If possible, limit your water use.
• Wait until flushing has subsided in your area then run the cold water tap until the water runs clear.
• If you have a water softener and are experiencing discolored water, place the unit into regeneration or cleaning mode after hydrant flushing is completed in your area.
• Remember rust colored water is safe, but it may stain laundry. If this happens, keep clothes wet and treat them with stain remover.
Q: Why does the water system need to be routinely flushed?
A: Stafford’s water distribution system is a complex network of pipes and storage reservoirs where sediment or deposits may naturally accumulate over time. If not removed, these materials may cause water quality deterioration, taste and odor problems, or discoloration of the water. Water may also stagnate in lesser-used parts of the distribution system, resulting in degraded water quality.
Q. When does flushing normally occur?
A. Normally, flushing takes place for approximately a few weeks in the fall and early spring during a time of generally lower water demand.
Q. What should I do when I see Stafford Public Works personnel flushing hydrants in my area?
A. If you see Public Works personnel flushing hydrants, PLEASE DRIVE CAREFULLY and watch for workers in or near the roadway. In addition, the roads will be wet and the water may pond in low-lying areas for a short period. Inside your home, avoid turning on any faucets or fixtures while crews are flushing nearby hydrants as doing so may draw discolored water into your home. In particular, avoid washing clothes during the flushing operation. Discolored water may be drawn into the washer and potentially stain clothing.
Q. How will this affect my water?
A. During the actual flushing process, water customers may experience some disturbance in their usual water service such as a short-term decrease in water pressure or discolored water. Although the water does not pose a health risk, it is recommended to avoid drinking the water until it runs clear from the tap.
• Do not prepare baby food or formula if the water is discolored. Use bottled water or pre-prepared food and formula. You can also boil the water for 5 minutes to ensure safety.
• Do not wash clothes if the water is discolored.
• It is okay to use the water for showering, bathing, and toilet flushing.
Q. What should I do if my water pressure or volume seems low after flushing?
A. Check your faucet and washer screens for trapped debris.
Q. Why does the water look funny after hydrant flushing?
A. When a hydrant is opened, there will always be temporary incidences of discolored water containing fine sediment particles making the water appear brown or rust-colored. In addition, fine air bubbles may be introduced into the water giving it a milky appearance. There is no health hazard associated with discolored water. Allow a few hours for discoloration to dissipate. To verify the water has settled, allow your cold water tap to run a few minutes. If the discoloration persists for more than six hours, please contact Stafford Public Works at (540) 658-8695.
Q. Is it okay to consume sediment-laden or discolored water during temporary disturbance events?
A. We recommend water users wait until the water has cleared before using it for potable purposes or for washing clothes.
Q. What takes place during hydrant flushing?
A. During the flushing process, a water distribution operator opens each hydrant to its maximum flow. This high flow stirs up deposits and settlements and removes them from the system. The operator also records the pressure, condition of the hydrant and valves and flow of water at each hydrant. Any deficiencies in the hydrant are noted and placed on a schedule for repair. The flow and pressure data is shared with the local fire department.
Q. Doesn’t the hydrant flushing program waste water?
A. While it may appear wasteful, flushing is the most effective way to keep our drinking water safe, clean and pleasant tasting. Crews conducting the flushing keep careful records of the amount of water that is flushed through the lines. Therefore, this water is accounted for and tracked along with other uses of water.
Q. How can I find out when hydrant flushing will be performed in my area?
A. Visit Stafford Public Works page on Stafford County’s website at flushing. Please remember this schedule is a planning tool and may be off by one or two days due to field conditions. Also be aware of “hydrant flushing area” signs. Generally, crews will place these roadway signs in the area to be flushed the day before maintenance. We will also inform HOAs of our planned dates and install message boards at the major entrances to your area.
Q. Where can I get more information about hydrant flushing?
A. You may contact our main office at (540) 658-8616 during normal business hours and you will be transferred to someone in our Water Quality Division.