Gloucester residents are being warned to expect temporary discoloration of their tap water today and through the coming weeks, but the water's color is not an indication that anything is wrong with the system.
The Water Division of the Department of Public Works is conducting the routine spring, unidirectional drinking water main flushing to improve water quality and system efficiency. The flushing work started Monday downtown.
More urbanized areas will be flushed first at night and more sparsely populated areas will then be flushed during the day.
The program concentrates on five sections of the city: the downtown area, East Gloucester, Lanesville, Magnolia, and West Gloucester.
It will take approximately two weeks or less to flush each area, according to a prepared statement from Public Works Director Michael B. Hale.
Hale said the temporary discoloration of tap water may occur as iron particles are cleaned from the pipes. Although the discolored water is not harmful to residents' health, chlorine bleach should not be used when washing clothes should be to avoid staining of laundry. Running the cold water tap for a few minutes is usually sufficient to restore the flow of clean water to a home.
Hale said the unidirectional flushing program, in place since 2009, has been very successful in water main cleaning and significantly reducing discoloration.
If water quality problems persist, residents should call the Department of Public Works at 978-281-9785. The Water Division will return to areas, if needed, where water discoloration persists.
Here is the tentative flushing schedule:
Now through May 19, downtown: Cleveland Street, Sargent Street, Warren Street, Centennial Avenue, Beacon, Commonwealth, Grove, Gloucester, Mystic, etc.
May 23 to June 6: Flush heading up Washington Street, toward Annisquam and Lanesville..
June 6 to 20, maybe longer, East Gloucester: Eastern Avenue, Salt Island Road, Eastern Point Boulevard.
May 20 to July 6, Magnolia and West Gloucester: Flush for approximately three weeks.
Flushing times shown are approximate for each section.
Residents should keep in mind that the flushing schedule may fluctuate by a few days longer or shorter per each section thus revising the actual flushing dates.