Discolored water won't last long

You may notice brown water coming from your faucets sometime during the next month, but don't panic. It won't last long.

Every year, the city of Gresham's Water Division performs a “water quality and system maintenance flushing” to test fire hydrants and clean out sediment from water lines.

The testing and flushing of lines will continue from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays through the end of April, said Brian Stahl, Water Division manager.

by: CITY OF GRESHAM: TAM DRISCOLL - Scott Griffin, water distribution technician for the City of Gresham, checks a bottle of water for clarity while flushing from a hydrant. Technicians don't stop flushing the water until it is crystal clear. “We basically flush one-third of the city every year,” he said. “It's one of the tasks that we're doing to have the best water for our customers.”

Water lines are tested on a three-year rotation, Stahl said, and this year lines will be tested in southeast Gresham in the Lusted Area around 282nd Avenue and Orient Street, on both sides of Highway 26 (East Powell Boulevard) and in the Persimmon Area along Butler Road. Maps of testing areas will be posted each day at the city's website at

Sandwich boards will be set up in neighborhoods where testing and flushing is to take place, he said, and testing usually only takes between 15 minutes to a half hour.

But if a resident sees brown or discolored water coming from their tap, Stahl said, it's only stirred up sediment, but they still shouldn't run their dishwasher, clothes washer or any device that uses water until the tap water runs clear.

To get rid of the discoloration or brownish water, all people have to do is turn on the cold water, usually for just a few minutes. Toilets with discolored water usually clear after flushing a couple of times. If the water does not clear up in a short time, Stahl said residents should call the city at 503-618-2626 and a crew will come out to diagnose the problem.

“The water main flushing program ensures that the drinking water system in Gresham is maintained in the best condition possible to meet the water quality and delivery needs of our community,” Stahl said in a press release.

The annual flushing is important, Stahl said, because it not only gets rid of built up sediment in the water lines, but tests fire water hydrants to make sure they work correctly. So residents shouldn't be alarmed if they see water gushing from fire hydrants down the street into storm drains, he said, because it's part of the testing program.

Last year, the city tested 86 miles of water lines out of more than 250 miles of water lines.

The flushing program is held during the rain-heavy winter and spring months to support water conservation efforts, Stahl said.

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