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An Improved Means
For Flushing a Water System:

UDF: A Singular Way
to Preserve and Improve
Water Quality and Service

The City of Buena Park Explores
a Test Program in Unidirectional Flushing

A Report on OCWA’s September 2020 Webinar

By Tim Hogan
OCWA Communications

Iron deposits within the City of Buena Park’s distribution system have colored its water for decades, so flushing the lines clean on a regular basis has long been a priority. Recently, however, the City decided to enlist the aid of Hazen and Sawyer to implement unidirectional flushing (UDF), an alternative method with many benefits.

In September, for the OCWA monthly webinar, two of the City’s water supervisors joined with a senior associate from Hazen to present a comprehensive look at all the preparation and effort that went into implementing the new process. Doug Brodowski, Operations Manager for the City, along with Mike McGee, Water Services Superintendent, shared the screen with Gregg Cummings, PE, Senior Associate at Hazen and Sawyer to provide a revealing look at UDF: A Singular Way to Preserve and Improve Water Quality and Service. The implemen­tation of this useful technique promises savings of time, money, and water.


UDF cleans the water lines by harnessing the power of the water itself. By closing off select valves and opening specific hydrants, water is directed down a single water main. The concentrated pressure creates enough velocity to scour the pipe and flush all sediments away. Properly applied, UDF both cleanses the system and uses less water than conventional flushing. The result is enhanced water quality, improved pipe capacity, and better operation for the entire system.

With Hazen’s guidance, the City began by creating journals that would serve as the guideline for the project. Within the journals all the connections and pipelines within the target area were identified, and a compre­hen­sive schedule for the project was established. By adhering to this “roadmap,” everyone on the project would know each required step, and surprises would be minimized.

Before the project commenced, an extensive public relations effort was undertaken to inform all the citizens in the effected area about what would be done, why it was being done, and how it might impact their lives. Letters were mailed out to every home in the target area, and message boards were placed at the entry to the tracts. The main intent here was to affirm that the water department was there to help, and to assure customers they would get what they pay for — clear, clean water.

The work was also slated to be done entirely during the day, so the customers could see everything as it happened. And quite a few residents came out to watch. Many of them expressed their gratitude for the letters and explanations they’d received. It built confidence in the system, and kept them all aware of the need for the work. And as they saw the water being flushed turn from a red-brown color to clear, clean water, there were many audible expressions of amazements.

If anything, all of this engendered a great deal of confidence in the water and an enhanced appreciation for the water department crews.

It also got a great deal of dialog going between the neighbors and with the water crews. Prior to this, many of the citizens professed to be very uninformed about how the water system worked, and what went into assuring both the quality and reliability of their water. All in all, the effort proved to be very positive PR for the entire water department.

It was also a vast learning experience for the water department crews, as well. All the painstaking effort that went into developing the journals proved invaluable during operations. For each area the crews worked, all the steps were layed out, and this roadmap ensured no steps were missed. And because this was engineered UDF, and far more effective than what had been done before, the City expects it will provide much longer results.

•    •     •

OCWA was pleased to host yet another in our continuing series of online webinars. This informative presentation by Doug Brodowski, Mike McGee, and Gregg Cummings continued the exceptional standard which OCWA is committed to provide in our new Industry Insight webinar series. For despite the disruptions the Covid-19 pandemic has plagued us with, the OCWA Board of Directors remains committed to providing quality, timely information for the Association’s members, as well as the entire Orange County water community.

For those interested, a PDF of this presentation is available for download by OCWA’s members only. Yet another great reason to consider becoming a member if you aren’t one already.

The October Industry Insight Webinar promises to be equally engaging, as well. Santa Margarita Water District will join us to provide an in-depth look at the design, construction, and future plans for the ­massive Trampas Canyon Reservoir, a project which embodies the District’s bold vision for a future of water independence. You won’t want to miss it.

Register Now to Ensure You Don’t Forget!
OCWA Members: Free. Non Members: $10.00

So join us, October 21, for a revealing look at how SMWD is addressing the needs of its customers — both today and tomorrow.

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