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Using Unidirectional Flushing Programs to Combat Tuberculation

The cleanliness of water pipes is an important, but often neglected part of proactive water utility management.  Tuberculation is the most graphic problem associated with pipe cleanliness.  It is an encrustation of corrosion products and mineral deposits that forms on the inside of the pipe.  It reduces domestic and fire flow capacity; increases pumping costs; leads to chlorine depletion; promotes bacterial growth; and can lead to taste, odor, and regulatory compliance problems.

The primary goal of unidirectional flushing is to clean water mains, removing as much sediment and loose tuberculation as possible. Performing unidirectional flushing helps to avoid tuberculation and sedimentation buildup; water mains that are not flushed on a regular, scheduled basis run the risk of building up tuberculation to the point that it cannot be removed by flushing. Removal of tuberculation is of critical importance, as buildup can have a significant, negative impact on water quality, fire flows, and distribution system efficiency.

Unidirectional flushing provides many secondary benefits as well. Exercising valves and hydrants regularly prolongs the life of the valves. Flushing can also help locate broken valves and hydrants when they are utilized during the flushing process, locate closed valves or other obstructions in the water mains, and help narrow down a search area when trying to determine the cause of water quality or pressure issues in a specific area of the system. Also, there are often discrepancies between the hydraulic model and the distribution system that can be discovered and addressed during flushing. Lastly, flushing helps to determine or disprove suspected system issues.

A successful flushing program is a continuous process.  Implementing a flushing program and analyzing the data it provides is an excellent way to keep a distribution system in top performance and improve water quality.  Wachs Water Services has the experience and expertise to effectively plan and execute unidirectional flushing programs on-time and on-budget.

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