Safer Hydrants, Dirty Water
Hydrant testing means the city's using a lot of extra water.
"We're talking 1,000 gallons a minute to maybe 3,000 gallons a minute out of one water main," said Capt. Larry Curtis of the Columbia Fire Department.
James Gunderson's been working with Columbia's water for more than 11 years. He's seen the effects of all the gallons that go into testing.
"You bring that long column of water, that's heading that direction, and you stop it quickly and it's referred to as a water hammer," Gunderson explained.
A hammer can damage a weak pipe. On Saturday the city was repairing a broken water mane at Seventh and Locust. Both the city and the Fire Department speculate the broken mane is from the fire hydrant testing.
The testing also causes discolored water. The increased flow stirs up minerals that have settled on the bottom of the pipe.
"There's nothing wrong with it, it's just minerals that are in the water. But I don't drink it either," Gunderson said.
But Gunderson doesn't mind the water problems, because it means the the Fire Department's making sure the city is safe.
"If your house is on fire, I want to know that that fire hydrants working," Gunderson said.
The Fire Department is required to test the hydrants every year. City Water and Light says if you have discolored water, it should return to normal after running for a few minutes. If you have any prolonged problems, you can call (573) 875-2555.