Local News

'Flush' Water Makes Waves in Area Pools

Posted March 20, 2008 5:38 p.m. EDT
Updated March 21, 2008 10:29 a.m. EDT

— City officials have devised an innovative plan to keep residents swimming and splashing this summer. The question is whether people will go along with the idea.

Water restrictions in effect in Raleigh prohibit using city water to fill swimming pools, which could mean a long, dry summer for many area residents.

But officials decided to use "flush" water to fill the Chavis, Lake Johnson and Longview public swimming pools. Three 6,000-gallon tankers showed up at the Lake Johnson pool on Thursday to start the process there.

Despite the name, "flushed" water isn't treated wastewater. It's water used to flush mains and hydrants throughout the city, said Ed Buchan, water conservation specialist for Raleigh's Public Utilities Department.

"The example I would use is it's just like kids running around fire hydrants," Buchan said. "Fire hydrants are being flushed, and there are lots and lots of kids running around that. It's the same thing. It's safe, potable drinking water."

Officials began recapturing the water during the drought and usually haul it back to the water treatment plant for use in the municipal water system.

Most city pools don't open until late May, giving managers enough time to test and chlorinate the "flush" water.

"With that additional layer, we have to sanitize it before you're in that water (and have it) inspected," said Scott Payne, operations superintendent for Raleigh Parks & Recreation. "We have to maintain that quality all through the swimming season."

Robert Wall said he was ready to scrap his summer swimming plans until he saw the tankers filling the Lake Johnson Pool.

"It's a good idea if it works. It looks a little dirty right now," said Wall, who noted he usually swims three or mornings a week in the summer. "(I'll go) as long as it's safe to swim in. I'm sure they have standards they have to follow."