ATHENS, Tenn. – Crews from Athens Utilities Board (AUB) will flush water lines and fire hydrants throughout the city the week of Monday, April 22, through Friday, April 26.


AUB has changed their pattern of how they do the work somewhat, and it looks to be a good thing.  The work will begin at 8 a.m. each day and conclude at 5 p.m., weather permitting.  The work should be finished by Friday evening.


AUB spokesman Amy McDonald said that semi-annual flushing activities have gradually shifted from being primarily night work to daytime work over the past few years.  This time, the work will also be done using only crews from the Water Division during regular working hours.


“We’ve tried several different start times, and it looks like doing this during the day has great benefits in less disruption for our customers, better safety for our crews, and it saves money by not having to pay so much overtime,” McDonald said. “By using only water personnel, disruptions to other divisions will also be minimized.


In addition to the safety advantage of working during the day, the workers’ ability to observe water clarity as they flush the system is significantly improved.


Flushing water distribution lines is preventive maintenance that ensures clean, sediment-free water year-round.


Flushing all hydrants will involve teams of AUB crewmembers that will methodically work through a different part of the system each weekday, moving water at a high velocity so that main lines are cleared of any sediment or stale water.  Crews will open each hydrant on the system for several minutes, until they verify that the water is clean with minimal sediment.  Some hydrants may remain open longer, at a “lazy stream” pace, for several hours depending on their position in the system.


AUB urges area residents to keep these things in mind:


  • During the flushing, residents may experience times of low water pressure due to the loss of head pressure in the AUB reservoirs that supply water to the system.  Low water pressure may come and go as various areas are flushed.  A pump will run continuously at AUB’s water plant to help keep as much water in supply reservoirs as possible, but low-pressure periods in some areas during the work are likely.
  • During each day and overnight when the work is finished, some areas may have slightly cloudy water.  This is typical and primarily is the result of small entrained air bubbles that will dissipate with time.  Some cloudiness may be the result of sediment being washed free of the lines by the high-velocity, high-volume water circulated through the system.
  • Because of the possibility of sediment in the water, area residents should avoid washing clothes when crews are working through their area and the night following the work.  Washing during these time periods could result in clothes that are dingy or discolored.


To protect streams and aquatic life, AUB uses a compound called sodium thiosulfate to neutralize chlorine in the higher-than-normal volume of water that is drained from the system in a relatively short period.