January 27, 2023
Starkville Utilities has gotten a head start on spring cleaning by launching a systemwide flushing program to remove iron deposits in pipes that cause brown water. Now in its third year, Starkville Utilities’ annual flushing program has made a positive effect on water clarity.
“Annual flushing is an important part of our strategy to address water discoloration and ensure that customers receive safe, reliable, clear water whenever they turn on their taps,” said Edward Kemp, general manager of Starkville Utilities. “We also flush the system in a manner that causes minimal impacts to water service.”
Despite localized issues with discoloration, Starkville’s water is safe to drink and fully complies with Mississippi Department of Health regulations as reinforced in Starkville Utilities’ annual Drinking Water Quality Report.
Brown water is typically caused by iron and other minerals that build up inside pipes in older parts of the water system. Opening fire hydrants is the most common method to improve water clarity and works by accelerating water flow to scour deposits from pipe linings.
When a customer reports brown water, personnel are dispatched to the location to sample for iron. If necessary, they open a nearby fire hydrant and flush the segment of piping until the water runs clear.
For the annual flushing program, crews start in a central area and work their way out until the entire system is flushed. Because the procedure can initially stir up sediment, flushing pipes in one area can temporarily affect water clarity in an adjoining part of the system. Starkville Utilities plans to complete the current cycle in mid-April.
In addition to flushing, ongoing infrastructure upgrades have reduced occurrences of brown water along with routine maintenance and chemical controls such as potassium manganate, a compound that prevents iron buildup in pipes.
Sediment build-up in water heaters also can discolor water. By regularly draining water heaters, customers can help eliminate brown water and extend the life of their plumbing fixtures.
“We have found that a combination of strategies is the most effective approach,” Kemp said. “Brown water is something we take seriously, and we will keep working hard to provide a water supply that meets customer expectations. By reporting brown water, customers are helping us isolate issues in our system take action to improve water clarity.”
Customers may report brown water and other service issues by emailing email@example.com, calling 662-323-3133, or using the city’s online request tracker: https://www.cityofstarkville.org/requesttracker.aspx.
Starkville Utilities is a municipally owned and operated electric and water utility, serving more than 14,000 residences, businesses and industries in Starkville as well as the state’s largest institution of higher learning, Mississippi State University.