Watermain flushing set to begin
Mike Lawrence - Staff Writer
Correction: A previous version of this article article stated watermain flushing was set to begin on May 2 and continue through to May 20. Watermain flushing is instead set to commence on May 9 and continue through to May 27.
Another spring tradition for Sioux Lookout is just around the corner. Watermain flushing is set to commence on May 9, and as Jeff Hawley, Public Works and Infrastructure Manager explains, it is a necessary component of maintaining the municipality’s water line infrastructure, stating, “Flushing involves creating a high rate of flow through a section of main to flush out rust and sediment that will over time, naturally develop in the watermain. This work is done annually (every spring) and sometimes in the fall as well (if manpower and water conditions allow for and warrant a second round of flushing/swabbing). Flushing of the municipality’s hydrants for maintenance of the drinking water lines is expected to take place between May 9 and May 27 in both Hudson and Sioux Lookout.
Residents may note a discolouring of the water while this occurs, and if so, are asked to run tap water until the water clears.
Hawley added, “Swabbing is an additional process that can be conducted where a foam cylinder is inserted into the main at one hydrant and then water pressure is used to push the swab down the main. The swab is larger in diameter than the pipe it is pushed through. The compression of the foam and its movement through the pipe creates a scouring action that removes deposits that would not be loosened by water pressure alone.”
While Northern Waterworks Inc. (NWI) is contracted to manage water treatment and wastewater treatment for the community, it is the Municipality of Sioux Lookout that takes care of all flushing and swabbing.
As Hawley explained, the Municipality works hand in hand with NWI to ensure the safety and smooth functioning of the Municipal water and wastewater system, noting, “The Municipality’s water and wastewater system can be thought of as three sections or systems. They are: water distribution, wastewater collection and water and wastewater treatment. In general, the municipality looks after the distribution and collection system and NWI is responsible for water treatment and wastewater treatment. However, as this situation demonstrates, there is overlap, as NWI is responsible for ensuring safe drinking water reaches all residents connected to our water system. So, when water quality issues arise in the distribution system both NWI and our staff are involved.”
Just such an issue came up recently when some area residents began noticing their water showed discolouring. Hawley noted, “The discoloured water that occurred earlier this week is not related to water-main flushing conducted by the Municipality. We suspect that the discoloured water resulted from an unreported use of a hydrant. It is possible a hydrant on the street was used for pressure testing for fire insurance purposes. It is common practice for insurance companies providing fire insurance to businesses, to require those businesses to have the nearest municipal hydrant checked for adequate pressure/water flow. This work is not done by the Municipality. The local business would hire any one of a number of companies to conduct this testing. While these companies are usually very good about notifying us about planned testing, it is possible they did not do so in this instance.”
Individuals having questions or concerns about their water can reach the Sioux Lookout Public Works Department at 807-737-1234.