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No need to fear tinted water

October 6, 2011

WOONSOCKET – After a 10-year lapse, a citywide flushing of the water distribution system is under way.
According to Public Works Director Sheila McGauvran and water district transmission supervisor Michael Asselin, the project began recently in the Manville Road area, near the water treatment plant, and will spread through other parts of city in the weeks ahead.
Residents might see some brief discoloration in their tap water in areas where mains have been flushed, but it’s nothing to worry about, officials say.
Though the off-colored water poses no health threat, officials recommend that residents who see discoloration run cold water through their taps at full strength to clear out any residue.
Despite the possibility of tinted water, officials say there will be no interruption in water service for customers as a result of the flushing program.
For the most part, the mains will be flushed only twice a week — Mondays and Wednesdays — and the work will take place when household taps are least used, between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Officials say residents of affected areas will be given advance notice of the work on the city’s Web site, http://www.ci.woonsocket.ri.us/. Information will also be posted on bulletin boards at City Hall and Harris Public Library.
To flush the pipes, the city will close water valves along sections of the system to create a scouring effect as water is vented from lines to the street by fire hydrants, according to McGauvran. Accumulated mineral sediments and other water-related deposits will be removed from pipes as a result of the pressurized flows.
Personnel will be paid overtime to complete the long-overdue project because the work is to be done at night, said McGauvran.
Ideally, water pipe flushing should be conducted every three years to prevent sediment from building up in the pipes, McGauvran said.
“Putting it off at all is only going to make it worse,” she said.
Residents of neighborhoods where the flushing is conducted can expect to see some discolored water come from their taps the day after the work is completed, the officials said. The program will probably last into November before resuming again in the spring.
The water department can be contacted at 767-1410 for assistance if discolored water is not alleviated by running home taps, according to the department.
McGauvran and Asselin said they expect the department will be able to clean about 10 percent of the city’s pipes this fall before the weather ends the work for the winter.
The flushing will be suspended during the winter due to the risk of ice build-up on streets where water has been released, according to Asselin.

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