Water maintenance programs

The City performs routine maintenance programs throughout the year to ensure residents are receiving the highest quality of water possible.

Our water maintenance programs include:

  • Watermain cleaning (flushing and swabbing)
  • Dead-end watermain flushing
  • Hydrant flow testing

The goal of these programs is to minimize the occurrence of discoloured water, ensure residents are receiving the freshest water possible and that our water infrastructure is in proper working order.

Watermain Cleaning Program

Watermains are underground pipes that carry water from the pumping stations to your street and the service pipes connected to your house.

The Watermain Cleaning Program consists of a combination of watermain swabbing and flushing to remove accumulated sediments from the watermain piping and is done all year round.

Watermain swabbing and flushing

Watermain swabbing entails inserting a soft material shaped like a bullet into the water main through a fire hydrant. The diameter is slightly larger than the watermain and the bullet (swab) is pushed along the watermain by water pressure. As it passes through the watermain, the swab executes a scrubbing action on the sediment inside the water main.

During watermain flushing, high velocity water flowing from hydrants is used to remove loose sediment from watermains.

What you should do when a watermain is being cleaned on your street

Before the watermain cleaning on your street begins, you should:

  • Fill a clean container with tap water for drinking and cooking and store this container in your fridge
  • Complete dishwashing, clothes washing, and other water use activities prior to the water main cleaning start time indicated on the notice you received
  • Fill your bathtub with water for use around the house;
  • Use a pail to transfer water from the bathtub to your toilet bowl to allow your toilet to flush
  • Turn water softener on bypass or shut off main water supply using internal stop and waste valve

During the period of watermain cleaning on your street, you should:

  • Avoid using water, including hot water, as this will likely draw discoloured water into your home’s pipes
  • Avoid washing clothes or doing dishes as discoloured water may cause stains

After the water main on your street has been cleaned you should:

Run the cold, hard (unsoftened) water tap closest to your water meter (usually located in the basement) until the water is clear. Alternatively, if your garden hose provides hard water, you can irrigate your lawn or garden until the water is clear.

If the water remains discoloured after 10 minutes of flushing, please turn off the tap, wait 60 minutes, and repeat the 10-minute flushing process again. If your water does not clear after 2 hours, please contact the City of Guelph Water Services Division at 519-837-5627 for assistance.

Call Water Services at 519-837-5627 if you have no water or low water pressure after the water main cleaning has been completed.

If your water is clear, turn on your water treatment or softening devices, flush each tap if necessary to remove discoloured water from your pipes, flush your toilets during normal use to remove discoloured water from your toilet tank, and resume normal use including drinking the water and clothes washing.

Dead-end watermain flushing

The City performs dead-end watermain flushing year-round to turn over water where watermains come to an end to remove and prevent sediments from settling.

Dead-end watermain flushing ensures customers receive the freshest water possible. Flushing removes buildup of natural minerals such as iron and manganese, reducing the chance that water will become discoloured.

What to expect

  • Water pressure may be low during flushing and water may appear discoloured
  • No chemicals are used in watermain flushing

Hydrant flow testing

The City tests over 2,700 fire hydrants throughout the year to help protect our community by ensuring hydrants are in proper working order when needed for fire suppression.

What to expect from fire hydrant testing

  • There will be no disruption to water service
  • No chemicals are used in fire hydrant testing
  • Residents living near a tested fire hydrant may experience a short period of discoloured water

Discoloured water

Discoloured water occurs when minerals naturally present in Guelph’s groundwater combine with chlorine to form small rust particles. These particles settle on the bottom water mains and pipes. When testing hydrants, high pressure water flows can disrupt the settled particles causing discoloured water

Can I drink discoloured water?

The City recommends that customers do not consume discoloured water, but wait instead until the normal clarity of their water returns.

Samples of discolored water have been analyzed and although it may not smell, taste, or look pleasant, tests have shown that it is safe. Drinking small quantities of discoloured water is not likely to cause a health problem. The most common element in discoloured water is iron, a nutrient found normally in many foods. For customers with iron storage disorders, additional iron in drinking water could present a health risk. These individuals should avoid drinking discoloured water and consult their physicians for additional information.

In compliance with Provincial regulations, the City continuously maintains a disinfectant residual in all water supplied to ensure customer safety. We work closely with the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit on all matters pertaining to the safety of municipal drinking water. Please call the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit at 519-821-8370 if you require more information on the health effects of discoloured water.

If, for any reason customers feel ill, we recommend you consult your family physician.