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The original item was published from 9/15/2015 4:11:16 PM to 9/27/2015 12:00:01 AM.

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Butte-Silver Bow

Posted on: September 15, 2015

[ARCHIVED] Water Division Crews to flush Butte-Silver Bow Water System: 9/21 - 9/25

Beginning, Monday, September 21, Butte-Silver Bow Water Division Crews will begin flushing water lines via fire hydrants throughout Butte-Silver Bow. This process is part of a routine maintenance program necessary to maintain the integrity of the water system allowing for the continued delivery of the highest quality water possible to our customers.

Due to the line flushing process, residents in the immediate vicinity of the work may experience temporary discoloration of their water. This discoloration consists primarily of harmless silt and air and does not affect the safety of the water. If you experience discoloration in your water after crews have been flushing in your neighborhood, clear the pipes in your home by running all water faucets, primarily outside hoses for a few minutes.

The same philosophy of preventive water line maintenance is one that you should conduct in your own home to ensure your home’s water quality. Your home’s water heater should be drained and flushed on a regular basis, according to manufacturers’ recommendations, to keep it working effectively and efficiently.

For questions of concerns, please contact Butte-Silver Water Division Manager, Brian Wilkins at (406) 497-6515 or .


Q: Why does the water system need to be routinely flushed?
A: The city’s water distribution system is a complex network of pipes and storage tanks where sediment or deposits may naturally accumulate over time. If not removed, these materials may cause water quality deterioration, taste and odor problems, or discoloration of the water. Water may also stagnate in lesser used parts of the distribution system. This can result in degraded water quality.

Q. When does flushing normal occur?
A. Normally, flushing takes place for approximately a one week period during early spring and early fall.

Q. Is the Water Division the only ones that flush the lines?
A. No, Fire Departments are required to flush hydrants when they are testing hydrants to make sure adequate flow and pressure is available.

Q. What should I do when I see city crews flushing hydrants in my area?
A. If you see a city crew flushing hydrants, PLEASE DRIVE CAREFULLY.

Q. What should I do after the flushing?
A. If the tap water is used during flushing, it could come out full of sediment and discoloration. If you encounter discolored water, shut the water off and wait several minutes. After waiting, check the clarity by running cold water for a few minutes allowing new water to work its way into your pipes. If not, wait a few more minutes and check again. In some cases, you may experience slight discoloration for a few hours. This discoloration only affects the appearance of the water; it does not affect the taste or water quality.

Q. What should I do if my water pressure or volume seems low after flushing?
A. Check your faucet and washer screens for trapped debris.

Q. Why does the water look funny after hydrant flushing?
A. When a hydrant is opened, there will always be temporary incidences of discolored water containing fine sediment particles. There is no health hazard associated with discolored water. Allow a few hours for discoloration to dissipate. To verify the water has settled, allow your cold water tap to run a few minutes. If the discoloration persists for more than twenty-four (24) hours, please contact our Water Division Shop at (406) 497-6540.

Q. Is it OK to drink sediment-laden or discolored water during temporary disturbance events?
A. It is recommended that water users wait until the water has cleared before using it for potable purposes.

Q. How is the flushing program related to hydrant testing by the fire departments?
A. The Butte Silver-Bow Fire Department, along with other fire departments supported by our water system, also conducts routine “flow testing” of fire hydrants. This is an important effort toward ensuring hydrant effectiveness for fire control purposes. Such testing is a separate effort independent from the Water Division flushing program and assists us with knowing if our fire hydrants are working properly.

Q. What is the silt in the water system after flushing?
A. Water contains minerals and these minerals react with the inside of the pipe to produce the by-product. This chemical reaction between the pipe and water is a normal and natural process. This process can occur on the inside of the pipe and prevent an adequate volume of water flow. The flushing process removes much of this by-product.

Q. What will happen if fire hydrants are turned on or off too quickly?
A. This will cause “water hammer”, which is a pressure surge or wave when water in motion is forced to stop or change direction suddenly. The pressure wave can cause major problems, from noise and vibrations to pipe collapse. In home plumbing, this is experienced as a loud bang resembling a hammering noise. Water Division and Fire Department Employees have received instruction on how to operate fire hydrant valves slowly to avoid water hammer.

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