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Water Distribution
Infrastructure Maintenance

Distribution infrastructure (watermains & hydrants) must be maintained such that it can continue to provide safe and clean drinking water, and perform in times of emergency.

Watermain Flushing

Watermain flushing is a maintenance activity performed regularly. During watermain flushing, you will typically see is Water Operations staff operating and monitoring two hydrants. This involves running water from two hydrants at the same time; by moving water at a higher-than-normal velocity, scouring occurs inside the watermain.

Typically, households should not experience water discolouration during watermain flushing, however this can sometimes occur. If you notice your water is discoloured, please run the cold water tap on your laundry tub or bath tub for approximately 5–10 minutes to clear any discolouration. If the water is still discoloured after this time, please contact Water Operations: 705-792-7920 or After-hours, please call 705-726-4242 and press zero for assistance; appropriate on-call staff may assist you.

Watermain Swabbing 
2017 Dates (approximately): May 15–26

Watermain swabbing occurs throughout the day, evening and weekend. Please refer to the swabbing area map(s) to confirm the area being completed. Have you received a notice? If you have received a notice, the drinking water from your tap will NOT be available during the times indicated.

The City conducts a Watermain Swabbing Program annually in the spring and/or fall to clean watermains. This is the best way to improve water quality and increase the reliability of Barrie's drinking water distribution system, ensuring water is clean, fresh, and flowing freely.

The Process: Swabbing involves scouring the watermain with foam swabs and high-velocity water. These swabs are injected at a fire hydrant and pushed by water through the watermain, then removed further down the watermain through another hydrant. The hydrants are left open until the water runs clear.

Impacts on Customers: The procedure requires that water be turned off briefly to affected homes or businesses while the section of watermain is isolated and cleaned. During swabbing, customers are asked not to run water.

Residences: Depending on their location, affected homes may be impacted by this activity more than once; however for every occasion those impacted are notified via a placard attached to door knobs of residences approximately two days before the planned swabbing activity.

Businesses: Businesses affected during the swabbing procedure will be visited in person by a representative of the City before project commencement. This visit is followed up with an email detailing the dates and times the business will be impacted. This email notification will occur approximately two weeks prior to the planned swabbing activity. 


Hydrants in Barrie are yellow or red. Yellow hydrants are public (municipal) hydrants, found in front yards and all along streets; they are used for fire protection and maintenance of the drinking water system. Red hydrants are privately owned, not maintained by the City, and are the responsibility of the property owner which they reside.

You may see City staff operating hydrants on occasion. There are many activities that can be performed through proper hydrant operation and maintenance, including watermain flushing, swabbing, sampling, pool fill, and repair/replacement.

Summer Hydrant Maintenance & Use

City staff take great pride in the appearance of the city, so during the summer months you may see staff or contractors at hydrant locations performing activities such as:

  • priming
  • re-painting
  • numbering
  • affixing a flexible marker (winter fire hydrant marker) to ensure the hydrant remain visible and accessible throughout the winter months.
Winter Hydrant Maintenance & Use

Snow removal from public hydrants is performed by a contractor obtained through the City. The crews work primarily throughout the evening and/or early morning hours to remove snowpack from the hydrants to ensure safe operation of the hydrant is maintained in the event of fire.

For those property owners with a fire hydrant: please be mindful. Residents are asked to assist by helping to keep fire hydrants on their properties clear of snow. Hydrants should have a clearing of one metre (3 ft.) all around and there should be a clear path to the street to ensure firefighters can readily access them.

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