Water Main Flushing

watermainflushing**June 2023 Update: The City of Burlingame will resume it's Water Main Flushing Program starting in July. This practice removes rust and sediment in our pipes, which helps ensure you receive clean, reliable water. Flushing forces high-velocity flows through the pipes and out through fire hydrants.**

The City of Burlingame occasionally conducts water main flushing. This is done as part of a scheduled preventative maintenance program to maintain good water quality and to improve the water flow.  As we flush your area, you may experience a temporary reduction in water pressure. You may also see some color and/or sand, or you notice a slight change in the taste and odor of your water. These conditions are normal during flushing activities and only temporary. If you should experience any of these changes or if you see some cloudiness or rust color in your water, we recommend you refrain from washing your laundry and flush the pipes of your home. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is water main flushing?
Water main flushing moves water systematically through sections of a drinking water distribution system, creating a scouring action to clean the line. The increased flow rate scours the water pipe’s inner walls and helps to remove build-up of naturally occurring debris and sediment. The water is discharged through select fire hydrants onto local roads or other surface areas. 

Why is a flushing program important?
Water main flushing has the following benefits:
  • Removes loose sediment and other deposits that may have slowly build up on the inside of the water mains over time causing discolored water.
  • Maintains proper distribution system operation. Flushing requires the opening and closing of hydrants and valves to ensure that water moves through pipe segments for effective cleaning.
  • Improves the age of the water in the distribution system. Flushing can remove water from areas of the distribution system that have low water use.
  • Reduces biofilm, which is a thin layer of microorganisms that can grow on the inside of the distribution piping.
How will water main flushing impact my water?
There may be a slight drop in pressure or noticeable discoloration of the water from the minerals and sediments that are being flushed out. During the flushing operation in your neighborhood, you will be able to see city staff flushing the water mains through fire hydrants and at the ends of water main pipes. Crews will usually direct the water being flushed into appropriate areas to avoid sediment erosion or localized pooling of water.

Who should I call if I have any questions about my water?

If you have any questions or if you experience any persistent water quality problems as a result of this maintenance program, please call the Water Division at 650-558-7670 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. After hours, call the Burlingame Police Department at 650-692-0604.