Cottage Grove city workers began a weeks-long process of flushing the water distribution system Nov. 4, which will see flushes conducted on all the fire hydrants in the city.
The process, which is expected to be completed by Nov. 25, will methodically flush more than 400 fire hydrants. The first week began at the city’s water reservoirs and moved downtown. The second and third weeks will flush hydrants working outward from the center of town.
Flushing the pipes is recommended at least once a year and the city is overdue by at least a couple years.
Minerals like iron and manganese naturally accumulate in the system and, though still considered safe to drink, can cause a yellow tint to appear in residents’ tap water. The mineral deposits can be scoured through the flushing process.
The discoloration may show up in residents’ tap water when large quantities of water are used, such as in fighting fires and summertime plant watering. This heavy usage can stir up the mineral deposits in the lines and get into household plumbing systems.
Several complaints from Cottage Grove residents surfaced in September about a hazy discoloration in people’s tap water. City officials maintained that the water had passed quality tests and attributed the discoloration to a spike in house fires that had recently swept through the city.
For residents who notice discolored water, the city recommends running cold water until the discoloration has cleared up.
During the city’s flushing process, the discoloration may be avoided altogether by temporarily refraining from water use.
“If they’re home and they notice that we’re out there, we recommend them not to run water in their house – or try not to,” said Public Works and Development Director Faye Stewart. “If you’ve been off to work and you come home and you know it took place, the first thing you’d do is use your cold water and see if there’s any discolor to it.”
Residents are warned to avoid doing laundry when flushing is occurring in their area as discolored water can stain fabrics.
As the work continues, residents should receive a detailed description of the flushing process on their water bills, which includes what to do if water appears discolored and a schedule of when flushes are coming to their neighborhood.
For more information, visit the city’s website at www.cottagegrove.org/publicworks/page/hydrant-flushing-program. The Public Works and Development Department can be reached at 541-942-3349.