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Hydrant Flushing

PUBLIC NOTICE: September 5th, 2023

The Peterborough Water Department will begin its biannual hydrant-flushing program on September 5th, to run through October 27th. Flushing will occur between 8:00am and 3:00pm. These dates and times are approximate and are subject to change due to scheduling and/or weather conditions.

Customers may experience discolored water, low water pressure, or a disruption in water service during this time.  Residents are urged to reduce water use and consumption during flushing periods.  Please wait until the evening hours (after 4:00pm) to do laundry and also refrain from using bleach, as bleach enhances iron levels in the water and can cause discoloration in clothing. If you find that your water appears cloudy or discolored, open all cold-water faucets and wait until the water runs clear before using it. 

What’s happening?
The Town of Peterborough is using fire hydrants to discharge a large volume of water from the water system.

Why flush fire hydrants?
1) To clean water lines
2) To ensure hydrants are working properly

By discharging a large volume of water through a fire hydrant, water flow within the pipeline is increased. This increased flow actually scours the inside of the pipeline, removing and then transporting silt, rust and mineral deposits out of the water system. In addition, this process provides the Town with the opportunity to assess the general condition of the hydrant.

Can I drink from the tap during hydrant flushing?
As water is flushed through water lines and out the hydrant, silt and mineral sediment can cause water to become discolored. Although the water may not be visually appealing, it is safe to drink and continues to meet all federal and state drinking water standards. There is no health hazard associated with the discolored water.

How long does hydrant flushing take?
Fire hydrant flushing typically takes 15 minutes to several hours, but discolored water may last up to 4 hours.

How does hydrant flushing affect me?
The main impact of hydrant flushing is discolored water. Here’s what you should do if hydrant flushing is taking place in your neighborhood:

  • If possible, avoid using water while the hydrant flushing is taking place. By not taking water from the tap or running appliances that use water (dishwashers and washing machines), you can prevent discolored water from entering your household plumbing altogether.
  • Don’t do laundry while hydrant flushing is taking place. The discolored water can sometimes stain fabrics. Wait until water runs clear at the tap before using your washing machine, and wash a load of dark clothes first. Rust will stain light colored laundry. When hydrants near you are being tested, please be sure that both your cold and hot water are rust-free before you launder any whites. In the event that such staining occurs, there is a remedy. Most grocery and hardware stores carry laundry aids which remove rust stains.
  • If you encounter discolored water follow­ing hydrant flushing, run the cold water taps throughout your home (bathroom sinks and tubs, kitchen faucets, etc.) for 5 to 10 minutes or until water clears. This allows discolored water to work its way out of your household plumbing.  Better yet, collect it and use it to water your lawn or your plants.  They don't mind a bit.
  • If, after hydrant flushing, your water pres­sure or volume seems low, clean faucet screens to remove silt and mineral sediment that could be obstructing water flow.

For more information…
or if you experience water quality problems lasting more than four hours following hydrant flushing, contact us at 924-8000, ext. 101

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