Hydrant inspections: Managing discolored water issues

May 2, 2024

Seattle public utilities and fire department coordinate on hydrant inspections

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) are jointly responsible for the maintenance and annual inspection of the city’s 19,000 fire hydrants.

This collaboration ensures the hydrants are operational and capable of providing adequate water flow for firefighting needs, thereby contributing to community safety and property protection.

Inspections are scheduled within city limits throughout the year, specifically between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., and only when the temperature is above 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

These inspections are crucial as they not only verify the functionality of each hydrant but also play a vital role in emergency preparedness.

What to do when experiencing discolored water

During hydrant inspections, residents may notice discolored water.

This discoloration is typically due to disturbances in the water main caused by the flushing of hydrants, which stirs up rust and sediment within the pipes.

Although the water remains safe to drink, it may appear unappealing.

SPU advises residents to run cold water for a few minutes to check if it clears.

If the discoloration persists, they recommend letting the water sit for one to two hours before attempting to flush it again through a bathtub or shower.

It’s important to avoid using hot water during this process, as it does not aid in clearing the discolored water.

Residents are encouraged to contact SPU’s 24/7 Operations Response Center at (206) 386-1800 if issues continue.

Efforts to minimize inconvenience during inspections

The partnership between SFD and SPU includes strategies to minimize the impact of hydrant inspections on water quality.

One such measure is the procedure for SFD to notify SPU’s Operation Response Center just before hydrants are flushed.

This proactive communication helps SPU manage and inform residents potentially affected by the inspections.

The scheduling of hydrant inspections is subject to the availability of fire stations, which must balance this task with emergency responses and training commitments.

Despite these challenges, both departments strive to maintain a regular inspection schedule to enhance safety and service reliability.

FSJA Comment

The coordinated effort between Seattle Public Utilities and the Seattle Fire Department to inspect and maintain fire hydrants underscores a foundational aspect of urban safety and infrastructure management.

The routine checks and balances ensure that the firefighting resources remain functional and effective, directly contributing to the city’s preparedness for emergencies.

The communication strategies and recommendations provided to the public during these inspections reflect a commitment to transparency and customer service, aiming to mitigate any temporary inconveniences caused by necessary maintenance activities.

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