AYER -- The Department of Public Works will conduct a new water main cleaning procedure starting Monday, June 20, at 8 a.m. The operation is expected to last for approximately four hours. Residents are encouraged to refrain from using their tap water during that time.

The locations where the water main cleaning operation will take place are:

* Pleasant Street from Howard Street to the end.

* Wright Road from Snake Hill Road to the end.

* Mountain View Road from Wright Road to the end.

"We selected those streets because they are dead-end mains," Mark Wetzel, superintendent of the Department of Public Works, said. "We've also received complaints about rusty water in that area."

This new procedure is called ice-pigging, an alternative method for flushing pipes usually done by a hydraulic or mechanical means using foam "pigs."

According to Wetzel, foam pigs are cylinder-shaped and designed in different diameters, according to the size of the pipe. Depending on the coarseness of the foam pigs, they can serve as scrapers or squeegees and can often break off into the pipes creating more residue during the flushing process. With this hydraulic or mechanical method, the pipe must be cut open, which typically takes more time and can become expensive.

With ice-pigging, a slushy substance is flushed through the pipes. This allows the liquid to expand in areas within the pipe that are normally hard to reach when using foam pigs.


With this innovative method, pipes do not need to be cut open. This results in less time and less cost.

"It's a fairly new process that was pioneered in Europe," Wetzel said. "It's less expensive, less set up time. The equipment used is a lot simpler."

The overall value the ice-pigging system offers is that it does not require as much water as the hydraulic or mechanical method, only a minimal amount of downtime, and residents are not required to evacuate. The cost for this cleaning operation is $12,000 for 370 feet of pipe.

For a hydraulic or mechanical process, the cost is much higher and usually takes five to six weeks to flush. The manpower is also higher, resulting in labor overtime.

The ice-pigging will begin on Pleasant Street, which is expected to last two hours. Next will be Wright and Mountain View roads. Wetzel expects the water main cleaning for those two streets to last an additional two hours.

Afterward, residents living in the area are instructed to run their taps for two to three minutes before using the town water. If the water tastes salty, run the tap for a longer period of time.

Another way to determine if your water is ready to consume is by its temperature. If the water feels unusually cool, then run the tap water for at least three more minutes.

"This is the first time we've done this in Ayer," Wetzel said.

According to Wetzel, not many towns conduct water main cleanings. The Ayer Department of Public Works has always flushed the town's pipes at least twice a year to remove sediment and anything encrusted within the pipes.

There is a possibility that the ice-pigging procedure could be delayed for 10 days. Wetzel said the contractor, Utility Service Company Inc., is experiencing some difficulty with the equipment. As a result, the main cleaning date might be rescheduled. There will be a public notification posting on the town's website should this be the case.

For questions or concerns about the new procedure, contact the Department of Public Works at 978-772-8240.