Holton city employee P.J. Oldehoeft attempted to loosen the operating stem of a fire hydrant at the intersection of Second Street and Wisconsin Avenue on Thursday morning, Aug. 25, as part of repairs to the hydrant. Repairs to other hydrants are likely in the coming weeks, it was reported. (Photo by Brian Sanders)

Fire hydrant maintenance essential to Holton water quality

Keeping Holton’s water supply and distribution system in excellent shape involves making sure that the city’s 142 fire hydrants are also in good shape, according to Holton Water and Wastewater Superintendent Dennis Ashcraft.

Flushing the distribution system also allows Ashcraft’s crew to identify issues with fire hydrants that are in need of repair, such as the hydrant at the intersection of Second Street and Wisconsin Avenue that water employees P.J. Oldehoeft and Cory Miller were recently seen repairing.

“It just turns real hard. It’s just hard to operate it,” Oldehoeft said of the hydrant’s operating stem, which is turned at the top of the hydrant to open a valve inside the hydrant that allows firefighters to access water through the hydrant.

That’s a common problem with some fire hydrants, said Oldehoeft, who noted that “multiple ones” need work in Holton. Some have tough operating stems, while others have issues with water leaks.

“It’s an ongoing list,” Ashcraft said about fire hydrant work needed in Holton. “Whenever we’re out flushing and operating hydrants, we’ll find one that turns hard or maybe is leaking, and it goes on the repair list.”

That list could get a little longer in the near future, as Ashcraft said routine flushing of fire hydrants around the city will likely be conducted in September, both to check the status of the hydrants and also to flush “free chlorine” from the city’s water supply.

“We take notes on the hydrants as we’re flushing them and see if we’ve got an issue somewhere, and then we’ll know what we need to go back and work on,” he said. “But typically, there’s a small percentage of them that need work.”

Hydrants are flushed to rid the city’s water system of minor contaminants and is considered “routine maintenance,” it has been reported. Over time, those contaminants tend to build up inside water distribution lines — especially in cast-iron water mains — and that results in slight discoloration in water, which flushing hydrants helps to remove.

Flushing the hydrants also helps to rid the system of free chlorine — chlorine molecules that move freely in the water to disinfect the system of iron, manganese, ammonia and other elements — which is added to the water system at times for a short period as a disinfecting measure to “burn out the system,” Ashcraft said.

For more information on this and other stories, please log in to your holtonrecorder.net account and select “Aug. 31, 2022” under “E-Editions.”

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141



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