Flushing through May

Trenton Water Works announces flushing program in efforts to prevent additional cases of Legionnaires’ disease

Trenton Water Works began the utility’s low-velocity flushing program throughout its water distribution system this week in an effort to lessen the growth of pathogens, including Legionella bacteria.

The water utility is using specialized equipment to conduct the flushing of its water mains in the 683-mile water distribution system, according to Trenton Water Works (TWW).

“The goal of the low-velocity water main flushing is to mitigate conditions that promote the growth of pathogens, including Legionella, by increasing and sustaining chlorine residuals,” said Sean Semple, acting director of the city’s Department of Water and Sewer, which operates TWW.

He added that once they achieve this water-treatment goal, they will execute additional action steps to improve water quality in the TWW system.

The TWW system provides water not only to more than 200,000 residents in Trenton, but to areas and residents in Hopewell Township, Lawrence Township, Ewing and Hamilton.

The utility treats and provides drinking water from water taken out of the Delaware River.

The flushing is being conducted Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will continue through May.

The flushing programs follows a New Jersey Department of Health [NJDOH] investigation in March of seven additional cases of Legionnaires’ disease among Mercer County residents who receive services from TWW.

The seven additional cases were reported between October 2022 and March.

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia or lung infection that people can get after breathing in small droplets of water in the air containing Legionella bacteria.

The flushing program will increase the water circulation throughout the distribution system and increase and improves chlorine levels.

TWW describes the program as a method using specialized equipment attached to a fire hydrant that restricts the flow to levels that the sediment within a water main is not disturbed or scoured.

The method eliminates stagnant water and improves chlorine disinfection to minimize the conditions that contribute to the growth of pathogens, which includes Legionella.

TWW officials added that while the flushing program is ongoing residents, who are serviced by the water utility, should not experience brown or discolored water.

Residents, however, may notice a chlorine smell as TWW staff increases the chlorine level in parts of the water system. 

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