The job of maintaining the City of Great Bend’s army of 500 fire plugs falls to the Water Division of the Public Works Department. This is no insignificant task as these steel sentinels stand ready to help save property and lives in times of crisis.
That is why Utility Superintendent Charlie Suchy and his team will be out in the community, opening up the hydrants and letting water spew into the streets.
“It may appear we are ignoring our own water conservation philosophy,” Suchy said. “However, the process of periodically ‘flushing’ fire hydrants is an important preventative maintenance activity to insure the integrity of the water system and deliver the highest quality water to our customers.
“We do this to make sure they work, for safety purposes,” Suchy said, adding its serves as an over-all inspection to make sure the seals are holding and everything is functioning.
The flushing also gets rid of sediment, calcium deposits and rust that accumulates as the hydrants stand idle. These plugs are known as “dry barrel” hydrants, meaning water drains from them when not in use.
This assures they won’t freeze in the winter. But, it also allows the gunk to collect.
There is another benefit. The flushing helps clean out connecting water lines.
Normally, Suchy said his staff tries to flush every one of the city’s hydrants annually. However, last year they only did 10 percent as the city was under a conservation plan due to the drought.
Now, he said they are back on track to do them all.
In light of this activity, Suchy said folks have had some questions. So, he prepared the following Q and A.
Q: Why is my water pressure low?
A: Your water pressure may be low due to the flushing of fire hydrants, which lowers the water pressure in the area that is being tested. This issue will be rectified once flushing is completed.
Q: Why is my water discolored?
A: Water discoloration or turbid water is caused by the stirring of sedimentation in the water main when hydrants are flushed.
Q: What should I do about the discolored water?
A: Run all faucets within your home for approximately 15 minutes or until water clears.
Q: If water is discolored, is it safe for consumption?
A: Yes. The discoloration is caused by harmless mineral deposits which settle in the water main and are stirred during the flushing activity. The water is harmless due to the amount of chlorine that is flushed through the lines.
Q: Who should I contact if water does not clear after recommended precautions or for more information?
A: If water does not clear, please contact Public Works Utility Department 620-793-4150.