Asheville City Council Approves Pilot Program for Discolored Water Reduction

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The City of Asheville’s Water Resources department will begin a pilot program this year to identify ways to enhance its flushing program as a tool to help mitigate impacts to its customers.

At their Feb. 25 meeting, city council authorized execution of a $50,000 contract with Hazen and Sawyer for development of a Water System Flushing Pilot Program.

The goal is to reduce discolored water following repairs or outages through a more robust flushing program to scour pipes of sediment. Discoloration happens in all water systems in the nation as sediment accumulates in pipes.

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Working with Water Resources, the contractor will identify two pilot program areas for water flush testing. Of the system’s 1,700 miles of pipe, an estimated 25 miles will be included in the two study areas.

Testing is expected to occur this summer through fall. Customers in testing areas will be notified through AVL Alert. The testing areas have not yet been identified. That is part of the modeling work to be done by Hazen and Sawyer.  Hazen and Sawyer are very familiar with the Asheville water system, having updated the city’s Water Master Plan in 2019. There will be outreach to residents and businesses in the pilot test areas this spring and summer as they are identified.

Impacts to customers in the testing areas may include low water pressure, the potential for boil water advisories and the potential for some discolored water. Customers will receive an AVL Alert prior to testing.

Once pressure returns following testing, there is the possibility that some discolored water or air could be present in the water lines. Customers will be advised to wait one to two hours while crews are flushing the lines at nearby fire hydrants. They will then be advised to run cold water for 5-10 minutes or until the water is clear. If water does not clear within 30 minutes, please let us know by calling Customer Service at 828-251-1122.

Water Resources will be flushing water through fire hydrants in the testing areas, so residents may see hydrants open and running.

This action aligns with city council’s stated goals of a financially resilient city and a clean and healthy environment.

“We’d like to thank everyone in advance of this testing for their patience and cooperation as we work on ways to lessen discolored water following repairs,” said Water Resources Director David Melton.

For more information, view the staff report to council.

Prepared by the City of Asheville.