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Brown Water in Harmon
To:     Richard Herbek, Village Manager 
From:   Tom Brann, Water Foreman
Cc:     Dan O’Connor, Ken Kraft         
Date:   September 17, 2003
Re:     Brown Water in Harmon


Over the last few weeks the village’s brown water problem in Harmon has been rampant. I have received many phone calls with regard to this issue. In the following I will try and explain to you what is causing the brown water and our plan of action to address the problem.  I have been talking with Dan in Engineering about this as well.


The total amount, type and the age of the water pipe create brown water in the distribution system. Most of the village’s water mains are made of “Pit cast” pipe which is unlined Iron water pipe, this was the standard water pipe that was used throughout the U.S. from1890 to about 1970. Other types of water pipe were used in the U.S. as well.  For example: Ductile-Iron, Galvanized, Asbestos, Plastic, Concrete, and Wood.  Brown water is not totally uncommon especially for older water pipes.  Iron pipe can give off a brown tint, particularly Galvanized pipe in the summer, especially on dead-end streets where water flow is less then average.

The brown water in Harmon is primarily caused by a mix of a lot of 2”-galvanized water pipes laying approximately12” away, running parallel alongside 6” or 8” Pit cast water pipe that is inter-connected at many different locations that are unknown to us, with little to no valves, along with multiple dead-ends which compounds the problem. Unfortunately, when most of this water pipe was installed, there was very little professional code enforcement from any governing body, so standards can range greatly from town to town as it did from Croton to Harmon.


To minimize the brown water as you are aware we are in the process of having the necessary design work being done by Kellard Engineering & Consultants. We are awaiting Health Department approvals and bid documents to be completed in the hopes of breaking ground in the spring of 2004. We are going to attack the most problem areas first (i.e. most galvanized pipe).  We will be replacing all the water mains and service connections as we move forward. We will be running (2) new main feed lines down Benedict Blvd and Oneida Avenue then doing the cross streets Young Avenue to Hastings Avenue and continue to move through Harmon in an easterly direction. At the same time we hope to be hitting other small streets like Wayne St. to remove the 2” Galvanized water pipe and cap it. After the bulk of the Harmon flats is complete, we should move our efforts to the Piney Point, Hill Street and Franklin Street area and replace the bulk of the water pipe over there within the next few years as this is another area with considerable brown water.

We also could explore the possibility of adding a corrosion control system at the Well field, it is a reasonably low-cost measure that would put a small chemical coating on the inside walls of the water mains to help prevent brown water.  This might keep the brown water to a minimum.

Long term Solutions:

I have met with Dvirka and Bartilucci Consulting Engineers about trying to prepare a long term water replacement and refurbishment master plan for the village’s entire existing water distribution system.  We plan on meeting with other consulting engineering firms in the future.  A master plan would enable us to set realistic goals and have the capability to plan out our fiscal requirements that will be needed to address the problems that the village will face over the years to come in regards to the village water mains.

Present actions:

There are limited actions available to us at this time.  We are responding to the problems by spot flushing fire hydrants in the areas in Harmon that are suffering the most from brown water.  We are trying to be proactive in flushing problem areas with some success, however, there have been a significant amount of people suffering with brown water this summer.  I will be talking with Ken Kraft to see if it is possible to move up our annual fall hydrant-flushing program a few weeks to help relieve some of the brown water complaints.