Moorestown Township pulls handle on hydrant flush

The flushing will begin on Saturday, April 1 and will last 3 weeks.

Striving to clear Moorestown of the brown water occurrences, as reported by residents over the recent months, the township has announced it plans to conduct hydrant flushings for three weeks, beginning on Saturday, April 1. The goal of this flush is to eliminate all brown water issues caused by sediment in the pipes.

According to a document released by the township, “brown water issues are a normal occurrence when there is a disturbance to the system caused by water main breaks, hydrant flushing, and more recently the change in directional flow from the turn-on of the North Church Street water treatment plant.”

It explained these occurrences disturb and stir up the sediment that naturally resides in the town’s pipes. Thus, it believes the hydrant flushing process, when properly done, will reduce the sediment in the system and resolve the water issues.

“You can never remove 100 percent of the sediment, but we’re working to remove as much as possible,” Tom Merchel, township manager, said. “It’s been awhile since the last flushing, which is why there’s a buildup. The more sediment you take out, the more the overall system improves.”

The last time flushing of the town’s hydrants took place was in April 2015. At the time, Town Council made the decision to hold off on flushing since it was getting its water from New Jersey American Water after two of the town’s wells were down.

“Flushing is a normal part of practice and the system needs it,” Merchel explained. “When water moves through the system, it scrapes the insides of the pipes and, because they’re heavier elements, iron and manganese sit at the bottom of the pipes.”

Merchel added that, when flushing is conducted, it stirs up the sediment and helps push it out of the system. He added that, while this is a necessary procedure, it is also lengthy because there are time constraints on when the process can be completed.

From Sunday through Thursday, public works employees will conduct flushing from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m., and on Fridays and Saturdays it will take place from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. The late night work schedule is designed so that when residents wake up, the sediment has settled back down to prevent the community from experiencing brown water in the morning shower. However, the Public Works Department did release a notice explaining that during the flush, residents may see some discoloration of water and experience low water pressure at times. It also advised residents check the water for discoloration prior to washing clothes.

Ultimately, the flushing will start at both the North Church water tower and Westfield Road water tower and follow a path outward throughout the township. To complete the process, each hydrant in town will be opened up and flushed.

For more information of the scheduled hydrant flushing, call Public Works at (856) 235–3520 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., and the Water Treatment Plant at (856) 235–0550 on evenings and weekends.