City flushing hydrants out to rid system of rusty water

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LEWISTON – Crews are flushing hydrants around the city, trying to drain rusty water from some lines.

Meanwhile, Diane Lamoreau and some of her Bushey Circle neighbors have switched to bottled water.

“If you brush your teeth with tap water, it just tastes funny,” Lamoreau said Wednesday. “It’s orange in the bath tub. It’s orange in the toilet bowl. It’s really starting to bother me.”

The orange water is caused by some rust in old cast iron pipes, said Public Services Director David Jones. It normally happens this time of year, Jones said, but the problem could be worse now because of a new city water treatment.

“It’s not a harmful thing, but it certainly doesn’t look good,” Jones said.

The city switched treatment methods in March, adding ammonia to the city’s water supply. That creates a new chemical called chloramine that is a longer lasting disinfectant than chlorine by itself. Chloraminated water also does a better job of removing mineral buildup left along the pipes.

The answer is to flush the system, so crews have been running hydrants and bleeders around the city for several weeks. Some areas, including Bushey Circle, are dead ends in the city water supply. Old water can collect there. Other dead ends include outer Main Street, Libby Avenue and Lexington Street.

Water headed for the Bushey Circle neighborhood also must pass through some unlined cast-iron pipes. Those can have rust buildup, Jones said.

“It just takes some time to get that loose,” he said. His staff had a valve open on the eastern end of Russell Street to keep the water flowing and he predicted the Bushey Circle water would clear up soon.

“It happens every year to an extent, and every year we flush the system,” Jones said. “This one on Bushey Circle has been a little persistent, and we are trying to address that.”

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