Flushing of the Jamestown water distribution system accomplishes several things.

  • By systematically opening hydrants and allowing the water to run full force, the utility flushes out minerals, sediment and corrosion products that have settled in the mains.

  • This process allows the utility to achieve greater flows through its mains.

  • This also serves as an opportunity for the operators to perform valve and hydrant inspections for optimal fire protection.

There is an alternative to flushing and that is to instill corrosion inhibiting chemicals in the water system. With the addition of chemicals to take the place of flushing, other problems arise.

First: each time you add a chemical to the water, you change the water's taste, odor, appearance and "mouth feel". The utility firmly believes in adding only the minimum of chlorine needed for disinfection and fluoride for tooth decay prevention.

Second: the cost of water escalates because of the cost of the chemicals and monitoring. Flushing is performed, weather permitting, twice each year - in the spring and the fall.

Frequently Asked Questions about Flushing

1. When is my flushing day/when will I see discolored water?
We can look up your scheduled flushing day and time. Please be aware that the highest likelihood that you will see discolored water is when we are flushing in your immediate area on your scheduled flushing day; however, keep an eye out for discolored water at any time during BPU water main flushing because the water system is being disrupted and it is difficult to predict when and where discolored water will occur. As usual, please be careful to check for discolored water before doing your laundry or using hot water in your home during flushing. If it is your scheduled flushing day, we recommend waiting to do your laundry until another day.

2. What is the best way to check for discolored water in my home?
To check for discolored water, turn on the COLD WATER spigot in either your bath tub or bathroom sink for a couple of minutes. It is easiest to see discolored water in a white tub or sink. If the water is clear after a couple of minutes, it should indicate that the water out in the main is clear; therefore, it should be safe to do laundry and use hot water at that time. If the water is discolored after a couple of minutes, turn the water off and wait for an hour or so until you check again. Please remember that if it is your scheduled flushing day, we recommend waiting until another day to do laundry. Be careful, as well, to check for discolored water before using hot water.

3. Should I do laundry on my scheduled flushing day?
We recommend that you do NOT try to do laundry on your scheduled flushing day. The discolored water can stain your clothes, especially white and light colored clothing.

4. What if I did laundry and discolored water stained my clothes?
Do NOT dry the clothes (keep them wet) or they will become permanetly stained when dried. Commercial rust removers are available to you free-of-charge at BPU Customer Service or at Town and Village offices (Town of Ellicott office and Falconer, Celoron, Lakewood Village offices). The products also are available at stores for you to purchase. When your water clears (refer to Question 2), re-wash your clothes using the rust remover - there are instructions on the packet or bottle. We apologize for the inconvenience - through advertising we try to reach as many customers as possible with information regarding flushing. Flushing is a process that we must do for water quality, water flow and hydrant maintenance purposes.

5. Should I use hot water on my scheduled flushing day? Why?
We recommend trying to avoid using hot water during your scheduled flushing time. If you need to use hot water, be sure to check first if the water is discolored (refer to Question 2). You should avoid pulling the discolored water into your hot water tank, because the water contains sediment that can settle to the bottom of your tank. If this does occur, you may be able to flush it from your tank; if you do not know how to properly flush your hot water tank, you may hire a professional to help you complete this process.

6. What if I were using hot water and I started seeing discolored water? / What if pulled discolored water into my hot water tank?
We recommend that you stop using the hot water until the discolored water clears. The sediment in the discolored water will eventually settle to the bottom of the tank. The sediment can be removed by flushing your hot water tank (please note that it is recommended that a hot water tank be flushed annually). If you do not know how to properly flush your hot water tank, you may hire a professional to help you in this process.

7. What if I do not want to drink or cook using discolored water, even if it is safe?
We recommend that you store some water a day or so ahead of time so that you have some available for drinking and cooking during your scheduled flushing time.

8. I am a restaurant - can I make coffee and soda the day we are scheduled for flushing?
Do you have a whole-building water filter? If you do, then you should be fine - you shouldn't see discolored water. If you don't, then we recommend that you store water and ice for use that day or use bottled water.

9. Is discolored water safe?
Discolored water is safe to drink and to use, just displeasing to see. Our water is treated with chlorine, which keeps drinking water safe and is still present in the water even if it is discolored.

10. What is the purpose of the pre-flush/will I see discolored water in the Village of Falconer?
The pre-flush takes place the Friday before the Falconer Flush. For the pre-flush, the BPU flushes the 18-inch water line coming from the Cassadaga Pump Station. Not many customers should be affected by the pre-flush because only a few customers are tapped onto this line. However, discolored water can occur due to the change in direction of the water flow when we complete valving to isolate the 18" line in order to flush it. As a result, you should still be aware and keep an eye out for discolored water.

11. Why does the BPU flush their water mains?
Our water distribution system is old and has unlined cast iron pipes. Water flowing through the iron pipes leads to rust build-up in the pipes; this is in addition to the build-up of sediment and minerals that naturally occur in the water. Twice a year, the BPU performs hydrant flushing to clean out the rust and sediment from the pipes. This allows for greater water flow through the pipes and allows the flushing operators to perform valve and hydrant inspections for fire protection.

12. Why haven't other places I've lived in performed flushing?
Flushing is performed nationally. An alternative to flushing that other places may use is to add chemicals (poly-orthophospates) to the water; the chemicals line the pipes and prevent rust from forming and accumulating in the pipes. The BPU, however, decided not to add these chemicals to our water because they may change the taste and feel of the water.

13. Why does the BPU flush during the daytime?
The BPU flushes during the daytime primarily because of increased visibility and safety. Better visibility during the day allows operators to more effectively monitor the clarity of the water flowing from the hydrant and track the flow of the water in an effort to avoid property damage. Also, operators can see and be seen better during the day which is safer for all of those involved.

14. How long will the discolored water last?
Discolored water typically lasts for a period of anywhere up to 24 hours. If discolored water persists for more than 24 hours past the time the BPU was scheduled to flush in your area, then please contact the Flushing Hotline at 661-1688.

15. My area was just flushed and I am experiencing low pressure or volume from my faucet.
Did you use water during your scheduled flushing time and was the water discolored? If so, then the sediment in the discolored water may have clogged the screen (or aerator) in the faucet and it needs to be cleared. If that is not the issue, then we can send a BPU Customer Service Field Representative to your home to check it out.

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