Discolored Water Result of Hydrant Testing & Low Flows

Dalton Utilities has received reports of “brown” or “rust colored” water from customers in the past few weeks.  This is likely a result of the Dalton Fire Department’s ongoing planned flow tests on all the fire hydrants in the City of Dalton. The hydrant flow testing is a necessary test that is conducted routinely to ensure sufficient water flows for fire protection.  This testing has been reduced in recent years due to the necessity to conserve water created by the recent drought.

In the course of normal usage, water pipes acquire a build-up of scale.  Additionally, all treated water has very small amounts of sediment (minerals, etc.) that may settle out in the distribution pipes.  When there are sudden large changes in system flows, the resulting “water hammer” disturbs the scaling and the sediment that has settled in the pipe resulting in brown, yellow or rust-colored water.  While this water is safe, Dalton Utilities recommends that you look at your water before you use it.  If it is discolored, run cold water from the faucets for several minutes until it runs clear and call the Utility for assistance in cases where it does not run clear after this time period.  With 1,400 miles of water pipe, some locations might require additional flushing.

“The hydrant testing alone could create the colored water issues, but unfortunately, it is compounded by the fact that water flows in our distribution system are down 30 to 40% from a couple of years ago,” said Mark Marlowe, Senior Vice President of Watershed Services at Dalton Utilities.  “These lower flows reduce the natural flushing of the system that would occur when larger quantities of water are flowing.”

“This reduction in flow is good in that customers are conserving water and using it more efficiently,” continued Marlowe. “However, less water consumption results in a reduction of water revenues which are typically used for maintaining and upgrading water mains.  The Utility apologizes for any inconvenience that this has caused and is working on solutions to minimize future issues of this kind.”

The Dalton Fire Department should complete their hydrant testing in the next two to three weeks.  However, the Whitfield County Fire Department (WCFD) is about to start hydrant flow testing.  Dalton Utilities will provide updates on our blog and in the newspaper as appropriate when we receive the WCFD’s hydrant testing schedule.  If you’d like to subscribe to the Dalton Utilities blog and receive email notifications of new blog entries, please go to www.dutil.com/blog.  For more information, please call Dalton Utilities at 706-278-1313.