Spring and Fall Water System Flushing at MPW

MPW’s flushing procedure is a comprehensive maintenance activity that helps keep the water mains clean and provides valuable feedback on the condition of each fire hydrant connected to the MPW water distribution system. 

When MPW flushes hydrants in the spring and fall, customers can use this map to watch our progress and know when we’ll be flushing in your area.  On those days, your water is not unsafe to use but you'll need to flush your taps by running cold water for several minutes until they're clear prior to drinking. PLEASE refrain from doing laundry when water is discolored and avoid running hot water, as mineral sediments can accumulate in your water heater and discolor clothing.  

To learn more about our system flushing, read on below the Hydrant Flushing Map:

Water Flushing Map

Click the magnifying glass icon on the map to search your address and hydrants in your area.

Flushing Process in Muscatine

The process starts at the source; the well fields.  Crews backflush each well to remove sediment that has built up over the last 6-month period.  This process is a balance between aggressive flushing and “starving” the system.  Staff keeps in close contact with industrial customers during the well field flushing to minimize the impact to their operations.  This usually takes about a week to complete. 

Once the well field piping is cleaned, crews move outward from the source, flushing hydrants on the water distribution system that mainly serve our residential and commercial customers.   Again, the goal is to pull out sediment and clean the water mains.  The Muscatine water system has two geographically separated pressure zones.  They are called the “low side” and the “high side”.  Low side hydrants are blue with white caps, and high side hydrants are white with blue caps.  The color scheme is important to water department and fire department team members.  

In each pressure zone, crews start flushing at the source, and move outward in a systematic fashion.  Crew members work together in order to optimize the result,s but not flush too hard to cause issues with the limited water capacity in storage.  Reservoirs are taxed during the day, and recover at night.  MPW’s System Control Operators work to fill the reservoirs in the off-hours to ensure the next days’ flushing effort is ready to go. 

Critical customers are contacted directly and receive updates on the flushing plan that may affect them more than just a temporary nuisance.  The list is extensive.  Health care facilities, laundry cleaning businesses, and any at-risk residential customers are examples.  In addition, special attention is given to those customers.  Operators may be called in after hours to clean up certain areas to ensure those facilities are back to normal. 

Local Fire Hydrant Maintenenance and Repair

Another significant function of system flushing is that water department operators put their hands on (and operate) the roughly 1500 fire hydrants connected to the water system twice a year.  Valuable information is gathered about each fire hydrant’s condition.  Hydrants that are broken are immediately tagged out of service.  The Muscatine Fire Department is notified, and the hydrant is repaired or replaced as soon as possible.  In addition to repair expenses of about $5,000 annually, the Water Utility has an annual Fire Hydrant Replacement Project where we commit over $80,000 to fire hydrant replacements.  Proper function and operation of each fire hydrant is extremely important.  Additionally, new hydrants are installed in areas of town that need greater fire protection than is currently provided. 

The overall flushing effort by the MPW Water Department staff has many significant benefits which cannot be overemphasized.  This work helps ensure the proper operation of the Water Utility throughout the year.