This sample of piping brought to City Council shows the bonding of minerals, manganese and iron in some of the City’s water lines.

For the past few years some City residents have complained of discolored water coming through their faucets. Matt Hastings, of Summit Design and Engineering Services, said it is a problem many localities are experiencing due to the age of the water lines in the system, some at 100 years old or more.

Areas of proposed water and sewer replacement for 2020 include Brunswick Ave., Watkins St., Jefferson St. and Laurel St. Hastings said there are a lot of calls from those areas complaining of discolored water. When workers flush the lines there are more complaints of discolored water.

“The reason for that is your water is stirred up in your line when we try to flush it out,” he said. “When people use that water they pull discolored water into the house.”

Hastings said residents should avoid using water during line flushing work unless there is an emergency. Once flushing is complete in your neighborhood, run your outdoor spigot before using inside plumbing. Running the spigot for two or three minutes will help reduce the chances of discolored water coming through the faucets in the home.

If water is cloudy inside, run the water at full pressure for two or three minutes. If the water has not cleared after five minutes, go ahead and stop. A main is likely cloudy and you are most likely wasting water. Hastings said though the discolored water is unpleasant, it comes from minerals such as iron and manganese that are not harmful to your health and the water is safe to drink.

South Main St. and Temple Ave. are also listed in the 2020 proposed water and sewer replacement plan. Work has already been completed in parts of the City, but there is a long way to go. Though some of the lines are nearing 100 years of age, the somewhat newer cast iron lines are a bigger culprit of the discolored water.

“That’s what we are replacing first,” Hastings said. “I think that’s the culprit of the majority of your discoloration. Sediment, manganese, iron and rust from the pipes bond together.”

Councilman Jim Saunders said he believes Emporia is further along than many municipalities dealing with the same problems of aging water system infrastructure, but it is something Emporia needs to address long-term.

“It ought to be a rotating system so you can afford to do this rather than undertaking a $60 million to $70 million project within a short number of years to try and find answers,” he said.

Hastings said he has met with Assistant City Manager Ed Daley and discussed planning for future water and sewer work for Emporia. Water and sewer work improvements combined for upcoming projects in the next couple of years will cost more than $10 million. Recent projects began in 2013 and 2014 with the water plant and wastewater plant upgrades. The East Atlantic Sewer Project took place 2014. Phase I of the waterline replacements took place in 2017 and 2018. Phase II of the water and sewer upgrades are currently underway. Halifax St. and Cleveland Ave. are targeted for water and sewer replacements in 2021.