“Anyone else’s water running brown today?”
That post and others like it have been cropping up on neighborhood Facebook groups in Lancaster this summer. And some city residents have had enough.
The repeated digging for infrastructure work “has become a permanent irritant,” said Larry Roskos, a resident of the 200 block of Lancaster Avenue and former vice chairman of City Council’s public works committee.
Crews doing water work have repeatedly revisited the corner of Lancaster Avenue and West Walnut Street, he said. Homeowners have to keep running their taps to clear the lines, he said, which means they’re paying for wasted water: “Doesn’t seem fair to me.”
The most recent problem arose when Pact One, a contractor replacing the city’s water main along Walnut Street, ruptured a main near the Lancaster Avenue intersection, deputy public works director Cindy McCormick said.
Then, once Pact One installed the new pipe, workers had to connect it to the cross-street mains. That was done on two days, “which resulted in two additional days of discolored/brown water,” McCormick said via email.
Another procedure that can cause discoloration, opening valves, took place in the area Tuesday. The water was expected to clear up by the end of the day, she said.
Next week, city crews are scheduled to remove a valve in the 500 block of West Walnut Street. That will complete the water-related work on West Walnut, she said.
After that, there is work planned in the remainder of the year on East Walnut, East Chestnut, Reservoir and South Prince streets.
Water discoloration occurs when turbulence in a pipe dislodges sediment, McCormick said. It can occur any time there’s a discontinuity in water flow: If a hydrant is turned on or off, or if service is interrupted while a repair is made or piping is replaced.
Discolored water is still safe, McCormick said, but customers shouldn’t use appliances such as clothes washers, dishwashers or water heaters until it clears up.
Last month, a leak in a water main on Running Pump Road resulted in discolored water in the city’s western suburbs and west side. It was discovered in the evening of July 17 and repaired early July 18.
Customers whose water service will be interrupted due to a scheduled project are notified in advance, and are alerted that they might see discoloration as well.
However, the turbidity sometimes extends farther and affects additional customers, McCormick said.
So do other disruptions caused by the infrastructure work, Roskos said, including noise and dust from heavy equipment, parking spaces taken up by equipment and materials.
The city needs to do a better job of communicating with all affected residents, he said.