Water Line Maintenance

The Department of Public Works is committed to providing the best possible water service to our customers. Our water consistently meets all federal and state standards and our Water Operations employees of the Bureau of Utility Operations have won numerous national and local awards. Water Operations is proactive in performing continual evaluation and rehabilitation of the water system.

A comprehensive program of on-going investigation and preventative maintenance maximizes system performance and is more economical than expensive and inconvenient emergency repairs. The Water Line Maintenance Division is responsible for both scheduled preventative maintenance and emergency repairs to the county’s 1,200-miles of water mains.

Consisting of only 30 employees, the Water Line Maintenance Division’s responsibilities include maintaining:

  • Over 1,200 miles of water mains
  • 8,000 fire hydrants
  • 18,000 valves
  • Over 100,000 customer water service lines

One of the responsibilities of the Water Line Maintenance Division is to perform emergency repairs to water transmission mains, individual water services, broken fire hydrants, leaking valves, broken meter vaults and any other part of the distribution system that fails. 

Despite our best efforts to maintain the system, pipes deteriorate on the inside from water corrosion and on the outside from moisture, shifting earth and tree roots. The need for repair may surface by way of loss of water pressure, a water leak, or by poor water quality. Fire hydrants may fail due to frequent use, being struck in traffic accidents and vandalism.

In an effort to provide the highest quality water to our customers, the Water Line Maintenance Division performs routine, scheduled maintenance on the water distribution system. This work includes water main flushing, water valve exercising and fire hydrant servicing.

The flushing program consists of flowing water out of selected fire hydrants in order to remove accumulated sediment, improve water delivery and increase chlorine residuals in the water. 

The flushing is performed by drawing enough water through the mains at sufficient force and duration to flush out accumulated deposits of sediments. By use of valve closures, workers are able to isolate the main being flushed and direct the flow of water one way towards a fire hydrant. The main is then flushed by opening a hydrant at sufficient velocity to loosen and remove sediment, resulting in clean, clear water. 

The flushing program helps maintain flow capacity and water quality in the distribution system; remove impurities associated with new and repaired mains, and helps eliminate taste, odors and discoloration from the water. 

Residents are notified by signs posted on major arteries leading into neighborhoods 48-hours prior to flushing. Flushing may result in some temporary discoloration in the water which is common during any interruption or disturbance in the distribution system. 

Another preventative maintenance function performed by the Water Line Maintenance Division is the exercising of valves. Valves are strategically placed throughout the distribution system so that water can be turned on, turned off, or diverted in another direction. Valves are also used to isolate a section of the system under certain circumstances, such as a water main line break, a service line break or a damaged fire hydrant. 

Valve exercising is required to keep the valves operating properly and to identify valves that need maintenance.

The third important type of preventative maintenance is the upkeep of fire hydrants. Since the main function of fire hydrants is to maintain adequate fire protection, it is extremely important that they function properly. The Water Line Maintenance Division has an established maintenance program to service fire hydrants, which also includes painting over 1,000 hydrants per year. Remember homeowners should never paint fire hydrants to make them look decorative. The yellow color is designed to allow the hydrant to stand out from its surrounds and make it easily identified by fire fighters. Out of service fire hydrants should be repaired as soon as possible. If you notice an “out of service” sign on a hydrant for more than week, please contact Water Line Maintenance Division at (410) 222-8450.

Our Water Main Clean & Line Project eliminates corrosion in unlined cast iron mains and coats the pipe walls with a thin layer of mortar. This procedure reduces discolored water and improves the system’s capacity for fire protection in your area. Miles of water mains are completed each year. The work is complete in Linthicum and Ferndale and is ongoing in Brooklyn Park and Arundel Gardens. Gibson Island pipe is currently being replaced.

Areas planned for the next five years include Suburbia, Margate, Marley, Greenhaven, and Riviera Beach. Homes are placed on a temporary above ground water system while the old mains are renovated. The Small Line Replacement Project replaces about 3 miles of small diameter mains per year. These mains were installed decades ago and, after corroding, caused low pressure problems and reduced fire protection. Small diameter mains are scattered throughout the county service area.

The Water Service Line Replacement Project replaces old, galvanized water service lines on the County owned and maintained portion of your water service. We complete about 400 of these per year and generally follow about one year behind the Clean & Line work. This ensures that you will have adequate pressure and flow to your property. If you are still experiencing problems once our work is completed in your area, we suggest that you consider replacing galvanized pipe on your property as this could be a source of low pressure or discoloration problems.

Some things that you may see while the Water Service Replacement Project is progressing are:

  • Video Taping - Each street in the contract area is videotaped prior to construction. This is done to document pre-existing conditions, especially sidewalks, curbs, driveways and the condition of your yard.
  • Restoration - The restoration process is carried out in several steps which can take up to 2 months. The trench backfill has to have time to settle which lessens the chance of failure after the permanent patch is made. Only the section of road affected by the construction will be paved. The same crew does all restoration, so they will return at a later date to do the sidewalk. Grass seed and straw will be placed in disturbed areas of soil. You should water this new grass regularly to insure growth.
  • Flushing - you may see water running down the street for a short period of time. New water services must be flushed thoroughly to ensure the water is safe for drinking.
  • Shutdowns - Some shutdowns will be required. Shutdowns can last from 1 to 4 hours. Be assured that your service will be restored as soon as possible.
  • Bypass Piping - During the Water System Reconstruction Project it is necessary to maintain water service through above ground piping. We must flush these lines approximately 24 hours after installation for samples to be tested by our lab to ensure safe potable water. The water you receive through this pipe is the same water you have been receiving. Above ground piping can be damaged by vehicles or vandalism, and if this occurs you could be temporarily out of water. The contractor will have a repair person on call 24-hours a day to make repairs as needed. Please bear with us during this operation. The temporary piping will be removed approximately one to two weeks after the cleaning and lining process is complete.

For emergencies or problems that occur at other times, you may contact the emergency dispatcher at (410) 222-8400.

The Department looks forward to working in harmony with your community as we proceed with these projects. If you have any questions, you may contact the Water Line Maintenance Division at (410) 222-8450 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Address: 435B Maxwell Frye Rd, Millersville MD 21108