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Water Outages

When Denver Water or contractor construction crews are in the area:

We may be flushing hydrants or repairing the water pipe due to a water main break, or we may be installing a new water pipe. We could be replacing a lead service line. It’s also possible there may be a brief interruption in service if we are working on the meter. This is usually no more than a few minutes, and we will attempt to notify you before we turn off the water. 

FAQs

What is the difference between a water main and a pipe?

The terms “water main” and “pipe” are used interchangeably. They both refer to Denver Water’s infrastructure underground, typically located in the street in the public right of way, that delivers water to a property. Water mains are part of the distribution system, which is the network of pipes that carry water from treatment plants to homes, businesses and other customers.

What is a service line?

Water service lines are customer-owned pipes that bring water into the home or structure from the water main in the street.

Why does Denver Water replace its water mains?

The distribution system contains more than 3,000 miles of water mains. Some of the oldest parts of Denver Water’s infrastructure is in this system, with some water mains installed in the 1880s that are still in use today. Denver Water installs or replaces an average of 108,000 feet of pipe a year, with a goal of replacing 140,000 feet of pipe a year by 2024.

Denver Water replaces water mains for various reasons. These include repairing or avoiding main breaks, replacing corroded pipe, alleviating potential water quality problems, increasing available hydrant flows and improving service throughout our distribution system.
 

Why do water outages occur?

Water outages occur with planned maintenance and improvement work or because of an emergency. Water outages for planned projects are known in advance, and typically associated with main replacement or maintenance projects by either Denver Water crews or Denver Water-hired contractors or developers. 

During pipe replacement projects, water outages are necessary when crews connect the newly installed water main to the existing distribution system, as well as when a water service line is switched from the old main to the new water main. Before a planned water outage, Denver Water will typically provide a general notice 10-14 days ahead of the outage and a specific 24-48-hour notice with the exact date and time of the outage, to allow you to prepare.

Emergency outages occur when water mains or other parts of the distribution system, like valves, break or leak unexpectedly. Denver Water has a 24/7/365 emergency response crews that immediately respond to breaks or leaks and shut off the water in the area so repair crews can safely fix the issue. When possible, impacted customers will be notified and provided time to set aside water prior to the system being shut down for repair. In cases when the emergency is severe enough, crews will shut off water to the section of the system in need of repair as quickly as possible without warning. In both cases, Denver Water will provide an outage notice on customers’ doors indicating an emergency water outage. Typically, repairs in the distribution system take six to eight hours. In rare cases, more time may be needed depending on the complexity of the issue.

During any type of water outage, Denver Water works diligently to restore water service as soon as is safely possible. We understand not having water is an inconvenience, and we appreciate your patience.

What type of notification will I receive if there is a water outage?

Denver Water provides as much notice as possible ahead of a planned water outage. Approximately 10-14 days ahead of time, impacted customers will receive a general notice of the upcoming planned water outage. The notice will provide information on a range of dates when the outage may occur, the expected duration and preparation methods recommended by Denver Water. Please note, dates may change during the 10-14-day period prior to the planned outage. A final notice will be hand delivered 24-48-hours prior to the actual outage providing the specific date and duration.

In emergency outages, Denver Water will provide an outage notice on customers’ doors indicating an emergency water outage. Typically, repairs in the distribution system takes six to eight hours. In rare cases, more time may be needed depending on the complexity of the issue.

I received a water outage notice. What should I do?

If you receive the 10-14-day general outage notice, keep it in a prominent place so all residents or tenants can see it. The notice will have helpful tips to prepare for being without water for several hours.

Denver Water or its contractor will deliver a second doorhanger notice 24-48-hours in advance of the outage with the specific date and expected duration to allow for you to collect water from your faucet or purchase bottled water. 

On the day of the outage, we suggest completing your morning routines including showering, cooking, filling bottles, filling water pitchers, as well as completing any household tasks such as laundry, dishes, etc. prior to the shut off. We highly suggest setting aside water in pitchers, pots and pans as a reserve during the water outage. Be sure to only store water for drinking or cooking in containers that are safe for those uses.

During a water outage, we recommend that you do not use hot water, ice makers, sprinkler systems or appliances like dishwashers and washing machines. This helps to prevent possible damage to these devices from debris that may enter the service line. *

Only turn on cold water faucets periodically to check for running water, which will indicate work is complete. 

Once water is restored, run cold water from a bathtub or outside spigot (weather permitting) to flush the interior plumbing and service line to clear any air or debris. For more details about what to expect and how to flush faucets, visit denverwater.org/service-interruptions.

* Debris can enter water lines for any number of reasons. Mineral deposits and other debris may dislodge from water mains as field crews shut down water service to customers including replacing or repairing water mains, lines, hydrants and valves or while performing ordinary system operations. Denver Water is not responsible or liable for damage to your property resulting from pressure changes or stoppage of the flow of water to your home. Crews will flush the water main of any debris prior to putting the pipe back in service, but they are not able to flush customer plumbing.

I live in an apartment building. Will I receive a water outage notice?

Denver Water makes every effort to notify all impacted customers during a water outage. For buildings with multiple occupants, Denver Water will work with building managers to share information and notices with occupants about the upcoming project and water outage.

Can I still flush my toilet with the water turned off?

Traditional toilets with tanks will flush once after an outage starts. To have additional flushes, you will need to refill the tank on the back of the toilet. We recommend reserving water in buckets, pots, etc. before the water outage to fill your toilet tank for flushing.

Commercial-style toilets without tanks that are connected directly to plumbing in the wall will not flush during an outage. 
 

How long will my water be off?

Water outages vary from 20 minutes to 12 hours or more depending on the work being completed. Notices will state the estimated water outage duration for the planned work or emergency repair. While Denver Water and its contractors strive to complete the work within the stated timeframe, there are times when a longer outage may be required due to complications or unforeseen circumstances.

Crews will not notify you when the water is turned back on. You should periodically turn on a cold-water faucet to check for running water. A constant and steady flow will indicate the work is complete. It is possible you may get bursts of air out of faucets along with water, particularly on higher floors. That is normal and will clear after a minute or so.

There is noise and or debris when I turned my water back on. What should I do?

When there is work on water mains or service lines, there is potential for air and/or mineral buildup from the water main to enter your service line and cause cloudy or discolored water. That buildup may also get stirred up as crews flush the water main once work is complete. The cloudy or discolored water is not harmful and is easy to flush from your plumbing. Run cold water, preferably from a bathtub, slop sink or outdoor spigot (weather permitting), at full pressure until the water clears. Please note, air may get trapped in building plumbing, especially on higher floors, so water may spurt briefly before returning to a full stream. Clean aerators from all faucets in your home. See more details about what to expect and how to flush faucets

Who should I contact with questions?

Denver Water Customer Care: 303-893-2444, Monday–Friday, 7:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. For after-hours assistance and emergencies, please call 303-628-6801.