The Henrico County Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has started a 10-year program to flush 1,570 miles of water mains, removing accumulations of sediment that can reduce water quality.
DPU’s first comprehensive flushing effort will begin near Darbytown and Williamsburg roads and continue for several weeks before moving to other parts of eastern Henrico. That area was prioritized because it has older water mains and has been served by wells, increasing the need for flushing to scour the pipes, DPU Director Arthur D. Petrini, P.E. said. Working from April to November, DPU plans to flush 10 percent of the county’s water mains each year, methodically covering all portions of Henrico. The effort will preserve the high quality of water that is provided to more than 92,000 customers.
Flushing will occur from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Work in an area will be announced with letters sent to homes and businesses, as well as with door hanger notices and signs. A schedule of streets to be flushed will be posted at henrico.us/utility and on Henrico County Television.
When flushing is underway, customers may notice large amounts of water in the street, temporary drops in water pressure, air in the lines and water that is discolored or cloudy.
“The discoloration of water is caused by the presence of sediment and does not create a health concern,” Petrini said. “However, residents may want to plan ahead and store enough water for drinking and cooking so they can avoid turning on the tap during flushing. Residents also may want to limit laundry and other activities.”
After the water mains are flushed, residents can help return their home’s plumbing system to normal by running an outdoor faucet to clear any loose sediment, he said.
For the first time, DPU will use an approach of unidirectional water main flushing, which calls for strategically closing valves and opening hydrants to direct water at high speeds through targeted segments of pipe. The approach uses less water and is more effective in removing sediment than conventional flushing, which involves lower velocity flows and achieves less scouring of pipes.