Water works — Maintenance will clean Soldotna pipes

Posted: Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Any discoloration Soldotna residents see in their drinking water this week is probably temporary and not a cause for alarm.

The city is flushing its entire water distribution system between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, which may result in a temporary water discoloration, according to Rick Wood, utilities manager.

To remove the color, water customers are asked to let their cold water run for about 10 or 20 minutes.

Wood said the flushing is done each spring and fall to clear any minerals that may have settled in city water lines and to ensure that all of the city’s 275 fire hydrants are in good working order.

The hydrants are part of the water distribution system, he said.

Water normally goes to people’s homes directly from the city water wells, with any surplus water going into its reservoir tanks.

As the water passes through distribution system pipes — which can be anywhere from six inches in diameter to 16 inches — only water in the top half of the pipe is flowing, Wood said.

Water stands in the bottom half and minerals such as iron or manganese settle out. Biannual flushing clears the pipes.

The procedure also affords the opportunity for inspecting the fire hydrants to detect any maintenance needs before firefighters encounter problems when fighting a fire.

Wood said, “We usually find five or so (hydrants) that need some work.”

When asked if his department notifies Mayor Dave Carey if they find a hydrant needing a paint job, Wood said there is a spot on the inspection form to check if a hydrant needs paint.

For the past couple years, Carey has actively pursued decoratively painting the city’s fire hydrants, many with a patriotic theme.

On a more serious note, Wood said the purpose of the twice-a-year flushing is to continue providing a good product to the customer and to ensure the system is in good working order before a problem arises.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.

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