Flushing and Swabbing

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In some of the older residential areas of the City, the majority of the water pipes are between 75 to 100 years old. These pipes can become blocked over time with tuberculation (see photo). Tuberculation forms over decades. The Commission has a Unidirectional Flushing (UDF) and Swabbing program that increases flow for fire protection and improves the water quality. Unidirectional Flushing is a more cost effective way to force the particles from the pipe using water under pressure. This maintenance technique has been completed throughout the water distribution system. In some cases, however, more aggressive techniques must be employed to clean a water main. A procedure called “swabbing” uses a foam cylinder that is forced through the pipe by water pressure to remove the accumulated layers. This cleaning process improves hydraulic capacity, fire flow and water quality in our system. The Commission continues to flush and swab water mains for regular maintenance.

What to do when Flushing/Swabbing occurs on your street:

You will receive a door hanger with instructions the day before your area is scheduled for water main maintenance. During water main maintenance please do not use your water while crews are working on your street. DO NOT flush toilets, run faucets, washing machines or dishwashers. Any water use may cause blockages to your household plumbing. During the maintenance process, water in the mains will become very cloudy and carry sediment as it is flushed through a fire hydrant. It is important that you do not use water during this time. Please call customer service at 413-310-3501 if you have any further questions.