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The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) has some advice for Anderson Mayor Kevin S. Smith (R) — Don’t Forget to Flush. Iron oxide levels in Anderson’s water supply have the OUCC asking City of Anderson officials to develop a plan to flush the city water lines to improve water quality in the city. The OUCC says “Indiana consumers have the right to expect safe, reliable utility services at the most reasonable prices possible.” Indiana utility regulators are currently reviewing Mayor Smith’s request for a 47% water rate increase.
During a formal review of the mayor’s proposed rate increase, the OUCC asked city officials to produce a copy of its strategic water plan. In over 130 pages of testimony, city officials “acknowledged” that no plan exists. The State, in a 32 page response, has instructed the city to flush city water lines, institute professional water tower safety inspections, and develop a strategic water plan, among other action items.
The State of Indiana, in response to the acknowledgement that no water plan exists, explained why a strategic plan is important to Anderson and referred city administration officials to page 2 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) booklet, “Strategic Planning: A Handbook for Small Water Systems.”
According to a Reuters report, after water goes through an “extensive purifying process, water ends up in your glass after traveling through pipes laid under city streets 50, 60, or 100 years ago.” Many of these pipes are made of iron, which corrodes over time. Timothy Ford, a microbiologist and water research scientist with Montana State University said, “If you clean up water and then put it into a dirty pipe, there’s not much point.” Ford continued, “I consider the distribution system to be the highest risk and greatest problem we are going to face in the future (to drinking water).”
In response to city officials, the OUCC explained, “Generally, water utilities in Indiana perform periodic routine flushing of their mains to improve water quality and flushing of their fire hydrants for safety reasons. It is typical in Indiana for well water to contain iron oxide, which discolors finished water. While treatment plants use filters to remove iron oxide, they don’t eliminate it altogether. To maintain the quality of water, flushing can eliminate iron that settles in the mains.”