Maintenance season begins for Port Colbornes water distribution system

Posted by Corporate Communications on Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

Maintaining the City’s water distribution system is extremely important to ensure safe, reliable water sources for residents, businesses, and visitors.

On Wednesday, May 20, 2020 the Water/Wastewater department began annual maintenance projects on the distribution system, which includes hydrant maintenance activities and leak detection/repair program.

Hydrant Maintenance Activities

The City performs annual hydrant maintenance activities, which includes flow testing and flushing, to ensure adequate water flow for fire fighting activities, fire sprinkler systems, residents, and businesses. It also helps maintain the City’s water clarity and quality by clearing any iron and mineral deposits from the watermains.

Here are some answers to a few frequently asked questions about hydrant maintenance activities:

Why is my water rust/tea-coloured from the hydrant maintenance? Is the water safe?

Sometimes, hydrant maintenance activities can make the water temporarily appear rust-coloured because the iron and mineral deposits in the water are stirred up. The water is safe to use and consume during hydrant maintenance, however, it may stain laundry.

Why is my water discoloured, but my neighbor did not notice any discolouration?

Your water may be discoloured because you turned your water on while the City was performing hydrant maintenance in the area and some of the stirred up minerals and iron entered your plumbing.

If your neighbours turned their water on after the hydrant maintenance activities were completed they most likely will not notice any discolouration.

Tips for Minimizing Water Discolouration during Hydrant Maintenance Activities

· If possible, limit your water use.

· Wait until hydrant maintenance activities have finished in your area then run a cold water tap in the lowest level of your home (i.e. laundry tub in basement, bathtub) until the water runs clear. This may take 10-15 minutes, and will likely use less than 1m3 (or 1,000 litres) of water

· If you have a water softener and are experiencing discoloured water, place the unit into regeneration or cleaning mode after hydrant maintenance is completed in your area.

· Remember discoloured (“rusty”, “tea coloured”) water is safe, but it may stain laundry. If this happens, keep clothes wet and treat them with stain remover.

As several residents will be home during this year’s hydrant flushing due to COVID-19, the City will make every effort to share a weekly update of the neighbourhood locations where flushing activities are scheduled to occur. Unfortunately, we cannot pinpoint the exact day and time we will be in specific areas as the time required to maintain individual hydrants is not consistent. If you notice discoloured water when you open a tap in your house, have a look outside to see if you notice a hydrant running water and/or Utilities staff nearby, and turn off your tap, washing machine, dishwasher etc. until they have finished. Updates will be provided on the City’s social media accounts and website

Recognizing that discoloured water may adversely affect residents performing home dialysis, we would ask that any Port Colborne residents who perform home dialysis contact us at 905-835-2900 ext. 256.

Leak Detection Program

The City has hired a contractor to conduct an in-field water loss audit of the City’s water distribution system. Audit activities will occur primarily during the night from 11 p.m. - 7 a.m. until June 12, 2020. These activities should not affect water service, and are extremely important to assist in identifying and locating any previously undetected leaks. Some benefits of the program include:

Improved repair planning schedules;Positive impact on wastewater collection and treatment capacity;Lower risk of property damage by improving underground safety; and Increase residents trust in water utility.

If residents have any questions or concerns, contact Richard Daniel, Manager of Operations, at 905-835-2900 ext. 234.

How does leak detection work?

Leaks are often detected when the water department or residents notice water coming to the surface. However, an effective leak detection program uses sensitive equipment to identify leak sounds in order to pinpoint the precise locations of underground leaks. A proven method for leak detection involves the use of an electronic acoustical amplifier. The noise produced by pressurized water forcing its way through a crack or joint makes a distinct sound when pipes, valves or services are “listened” to. Potential leak sites can be identified by this method and further localized by Correlation Testing. Leak Noise Correlation works by measuring leak signals (sound or vibration) at two points that bracket the suspected leak. Accelerometer sensors are attached magnetically to a valve, hydrant or pipe on either side of the suspected leak location. The characteristics of the pipeline are entered into the correlators base unit and the position of the leak is then determined electronically, calculated using the time delay between the leak noise signals.

Do you think you have a leak?

This is a fantastic time of year for Port Colborne residents and businesses to conduct their own water loss audit! Undetected leaks in your home or business can add up to a lot of water waste every year - that's a lot of wasted drinking water, and your hard earned money!

The best way to check for overall leaks is to use your water meter. Follow these simple steps to determine if you have a leak.

1. Shut off all of your water-using appliances and fixtures, including the automatic ice maker in the fridge.

2. At your water meter, open the door covering the meter face, and use a bright flashlight to “wake up” the display. Be patient – it may take a few minutes for the display to “wake up”. Look at the display (see pictures below) – if there is an arrow displayed, water is in use. If the arrow is flashing, the water is moving very slowly. If a tap symbol is displayed, that means continuous water usage has been detected in the previous 24 hours. If the tap is flashing, intermittent water usage has been detected in the previous 24 hours.

3. If you have a leak, you will need to play detective to find the source. The most likely culprits are toilets, faucets, showerheads, water filtration systems and sprinkler systems. Toilet testing dye strips and instructions are available at the first floor of City Hall. However, due to the current facility closures, please call 905-835-2900 ext. 256 and we will arrange to drop off test strips and instructions in your mailbox. Instructions on how to read your water meter and how to check your toilet for leaks are provided at:

Did you know when the City upgraded all the water meters in the City in 2016, the meters that were installed have a datalogger function? Once you have tracked down and repaired the source of your leak, you can contact the City and ask to have your meter downloaded. The download consists of 95 days of hourly water consumption captured by the water meter. This will indicate if the leak has truly stopped or if there is something else using water in the property.

Quality Management System – the driving force of maintenance

In order to be licensed to provide drinking water, a municipality must have a Drinking Water Quality Management System (DWQMS) in place and be accredited. The City has been accredited since 2009, demonstrating the City’s commitment to providing a safe, reliable supply of drinking water to our residents, businesses and visitors.

Council and staff use the quality policy to guide all decisions with respect to the drinking water in Port Colborne, including routine maintenance such as hydrant maintenance and leak detection.

The City is also committed to providing CLEAN drinking water:

Consistent compliance with legislation.
Listening and communicating with the public regarding safe drinking water.
Establishing a Quality Management System that is always improving.
Allowing only the safest water to reach your tap.
Necessity of life, of the highest quality.

To learn more about the City’s DWQMS, visit The City’s Operational Plan is also available at the Port Colborne Public Library and Engineering and Operations Centre.

To contact the Utilities Department, call 905-835-5079, or visit to learn more about the City’s drinking water.

For more information about your water bill, call 905-835-2900 ext. 125, email, or visit



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