Ocean Pines, MD – Worcester County Public Works Water & Wastewater Division crews are responding to recent increased reports of discolored water in Ocean Pines by Flushing Water Lines and fire hydrants in the affected areas to clear the water lines.
Residents who experience brown water issues are asked to contact the Water & Waste Water Division at 410-641-5251 (answers 24 hours). Please include the address of the home experiencing the problem to better help crews diagnose and correct the problem.
“Water discoloration in Ocean Pines occurs due to mineral particulates, primarily iron, suspended in the water, not biological contamination,” Public Works Director Dallas Baker said. “To combat the issue, we conduct routine water system flushing at the fire hydrants throughout the community. Crews open and close the hydrants to flush out the built-up iron deposits. Sometimes, this can lead to temporary increases in suspended iron, which should settle out within a few hours of the flushing.”
Clean Water Act standards allow for 0.3 mg/L of iron in drinking water, as an aesthetic standard. However, the wells serving Ocean Pines normally contain an average iron concentration below 0.1 mg/l and historically average 0.06 mg/l. of iron.
Ocean Pines wells produce up to 2.5 million gallons of water per day. Over time the small amount of iron in the water builds up. In areas of low water usage, like cul-de-sacs, that iron can settle out and collect.
Deposits will occasionally break up and cause the brown water effect most commonly seen. Occurrences of high water use, like fighting fires and opening fire hydrants, can cause resuspension of those minerals and water discoloration.
“To reduce the frequency of iron settling in the bottoms of pipes, we are developing a program to loop the water system that includes tying dead end water mains into nearby mains on adjacent streets wherever possible” Baker said. “In some cases these looped mains may need to be constructed on the five-foot-wide, side-yard utility easements, which are in place on all Ocean Pines properties. The new extensions will be installed via directional drilling, which should not affect any surface structures or landscaping.”
Water and Wastewater crews typically flush the Ocean Pines water system twice a year. Flushing Water Lines during the summer months is minimized because of the seasonally-high water use. This year hydrant flushing will begin in October and move through the various sections of Ocean Pines.
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