Lake Charles: City plans cleaning of water system

It’s not uncommon that residents turn on their facets to find that their water has temporarily turned brown, especially in the summer months.

Although it may seem dangerous, the water is actually safe to drink.

According to City Planning Director Mike Huber, the brown substance is just leftover magnesium and iron from the ground that has settled at the bottom of water distribution lines.

Increased usage during hot weather or at certain times of the day causes water to move faster, he said, pushing along this sediment until it comes out of sinks, washing machines and bathtubs.

Huber said in the past the city has dealt with this problem by staging controlled flushes of its supply pipes, usually on a small scale.

But starting today, the city will embark on its first ever system-wide flushing program, working its way pipe by pipe from south to north over the next two months.

The city has about 450 miles of piping and six treatment plants.

The program is being conducted by Manchac Consulting Group. Operators will isolate a pipe by closing its valves, then flush out the sediment by letting it flow through a nearby fire hydrant.

Although the city has been receiving some complaints, Huber said, the new flushing program is mainly a preventative measure. He said the city wants to make sure its water system is clean for when new businesses begin operating and more people move into the area as a result of economic growth.

“We’re trying to get ahead of the game,” Huber said. “We’re trying to prevent discoloration events in the future by flushing all of these solids out of here in a controlled manner.”

He advised residents that they may experience fluctuations in pressure and flow and some discoloration during the program, due to water being stirred up and redirected. To get rid of the brown color, residents can let water run until it clears or reduce usage temporarily.

{{tncms-inline alignment=”center” content=”<p><em>‘We’re trying to get ahead of the game. We’re trying to prevent discoloration events in the future by flushing all of these solids out of here in a controlled manner.’</em></p> <p style="text-align: right;">-Mike Huber, City Planning Director</p>” id=”17c3ddc0-1cc0-40bb-a139-1ffb3867eb16″ style-type=”quote” title=”Pull Quote” type=”relcontent” width=”full”}}

Huber said the program will also serve as a trial run for gauging the effectiveness of system-wide flushing.

“Our intent is to do it as frequently as we need to, which may mean that we’re going to do it annually from this point forward,” he said.

Russell Buckels, water division superintendent, said that although his department receives complaints from all areas of the city, complaints have increased in the south part of town because of growth in that area.

Buckels said the city has enough capacity at its existing water plants to handle current consumption rates but will need to increase capacity over the next few years to keep up with growth long term.

Water Treatment Plant

The city has been advised by consultants that it needs to construct a new water treatment plant in the southeast part of town to continue serving the needs of that area.

The plant will cost about $26 million and take about three years to build, according to City Administrator John Cardone.

City Council members will decide Wednesday on whether to enter an agreement with Manchac Consulting Group for engineering services for the new plant and distribution system.

Huber said the new flushing program will help prepare the city for another treatment plant and other future capital improvements.

“We have a desire to build a new water plant, and part of what we want to do is be able to ensure that the system we have in place with existing water plants is as effective as possible,” he said.

‘We’re trying to get ahead of the game. We’re trying to prevent discoloration events in the future by flushing all of these solids out of here in a controlled manner.’

-Mike Huber, City Planning Director

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