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Got Brown Water, Manhattan Beach? It's Water System Flushing

Jun 04, 2024 08:02PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
We are so sorry to have to publish this gross photo, Manhattan Beach, but we wanted to let you know that some parts of town may be seeing brown water in the next few weeks.

The city will be conducting "water flushing" from June 4 to June 24 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The flushing area will include much of East Manhattan Beach: It will take place between Aviation Blvd. and Sepulveda Blvd., and between Manhattan Beach Blvd. and 2nd Street.

The city's "Water Distribution System Flushing Program" is a program designed to scour and clean Manhattan Beach's 106+ miles of water distribution pipes. The flushing is performed segment by segment throughout the city until all segments have been reached. A different segment of East Manhattan Beach and part of the Sand Section was "flushed" earlier this spring; other neighborhoods will come later.

(And even though the word "flushing" is involved, the discoloration does not have to do with sewage.)

What is Water Flushing? 

According to the city, organic and naturally occurring sediments settle at the bottom of water supply lines. Even though the water flowing through the mains has undergone treatment, the water pipes need to periodically be cleaned to make sure that this sediment is removed. This process is called flushing.

Flushing can cause the water passing through the pipes to speed up and the faster flow can stir up the sediment and cause your water to appear yellow or brown (but not that kind of yellow or brown). The discoloration is caused by minerals, sand, rust, and other particulates.

The old-timey method of flushing involved opening up a fire hydrant and letting it run into the sewer or storm drain system, wasting millions of gallons of water per year. Now, the city carries out pipe cleanings by controlling the flow of water through isolated sections of water pipeline at a higher than normal velocity. City workers close and/or open specific water valves and release water through a fire hydrant. The increased water flow provides a scouring affect to remove settled out debris such as sand, mineral deposits and other material that accumulate in the city’s water pipes.

This year, the city is using an even further improved technique to complete the flushing while minimizing water waste. Known as NO-DES, the new system will allow water to flow through a filtration system to remove the settled debris before it is returned to the distribution system.

What To Do If You See Discolored Water

According to the city, if you experience discolored water:
  • Refrain from using water during the cleaning hours and for at least an hour after the cleaning hours end. (Approximately 2:30 p.m.)
  • Test your water from the closest outlet to water meter. (This will usually be a hose bib outside.)
  • If the water runs clear, take the following steps to flush the rest of your system: 
    1. Inside the home, remove any aerators from the kitchen and bathroom faucets. (Removing these will eliminate the chance of sediment getting stuck in the aerator screen.)
    2. Open all COLD water taps inside the home to full open position, including kitchen, bathroom, and shower faucets. Run at the same time for two minutes, until water runs clear.
    3. With faucet aerators still removed, open all HOT water taps to full open position for at least two minutes or until water runs clear.
    4. After flushing both cold and hot water taps, inspect the faucet aerators, clean if necessary, and reinstall.
And if you're not in the area that is being flushed in the month of June, you can relax. But keep an eye out for the city's water flushing program web page to see if your area might be next.

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