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Hydrant flushing raises water concerns

By Rachel McDaniel Recent flushing of Barnesville fire hydrants has some residents concerned about using tap water for bathing and drinking. Most hydrant flushing occurs on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and it can cause sediment to show in local citizens’ water from faucets in and outside their homes. ’When the hydrants are flushed in your area, you may experience discolored water. This is the result of iron oxide that has accumulated in the distribution system,’ said assistant city manager Tim Turner. ‘If you experience discoloration in your water after crews have been flushing in your neighborhood, you should clear the pipes by running all water outlets, including your clothes washing machine for a few minutes until it is clear.’ City and county hydrants must be flushed periodically to ensure the hydrants are working properly for use to combat fire. ’Flushing fire hydrants is a necessary step in the preventative maintenance on the water system to ensure all the hydrants are working properly,’ said Turner. ‘Maintenance includes testing operation of the fire hydrants, flow measurements, greasing the operating stem and painting the hydrants. Fire hydrant testing is done approximately every two years. It will take several months to totally complete flushing and flow testing of the 1,500 hydrants in the city and county.’ If the discoloration of water lasts for more than 24 hours, contact city hall at 770-358-0181 during office hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. While flushing lines has caused some concerns, citizens should also know that according to a FluksAqua study, Barnesville’s water loss is much lower than it is in surrounding cities. The study is based on 2013 water use data. All water systems lose water, sometimes from broken pipes but most often through small underground leaks. ’Lost water, non-revenue water, is the total difference of produced water volume and the calculated volume of water used. The unaccounted for water is typically attributed to small leaks within the distribution system,’ said Turner. ‘Water loss is addressed every day as the city works to minimize operational costs through effective and efficient plant operations and proactively addressing distribution system maintenance. The city also utilizes internal and external audits to insure accurate record keeping.’ In 2013, the city of Barnesville supplied 460 million gallons of water, losing 69 million gallons of water, enough to fill 105 Olympic-sized swimming pools, at a cost of around $100,000. Compared to neighboring cities in the same year, Barnesville’s water loss was much lower. The city of Thomaston supplied 669 million gallons of water, losing 243 million gallons of water, at a cost of nearly $300,000 to the city. The city of Forsyth supplied 524 million gallons of water, losing 125 million gallons of water, at a cost of more than $130,000. The city of Griffin supplied 1,321 million gallons of water, losing 565 million gallons of water, at a cost of $440,000. The city of Barnesville’s primary drinking water source is the Eady Creek Reservoir, also known as the City Pond. The 160-acre reservoir is on City Pond Road about six miles north of the city’s Water Treatment Plant off Highway 36. ’A water system will always incur some water loss. The city’s goal is to minimize the amount of water that is lost by continuing to implement many of the best management practices that are already being utilized,’ said Turner. ‘These practices include system leak detection, internal and external records auditing, efficient Water Treatment Plant operations and planning for future water infrastructure needs.’

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