Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

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 Swabbing 

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.

Have you received a notice? If you have received a notice, The City is advising that no water be used during the times specified on the notice.  In addition, the City is suggesting that your shut off valve be turned “OFF” at your meter, to prevent any water being used accidently.

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. 

2017 Watermain Swabbing: May 15–27

Watermain swabbing occurs throughout the day, evening and weekend. Water Operations staff will be monitoring the water clarity and chlorine residual in the watermains throughout the duration of this project. The areas affected are:

  1. Edgehill Drive south to Tiffin Street and from Ferndale Drive north, west to the city limits (excluding Dunlop Street west of Ferndale Drive). View map.
  2. Minet’s Point Road to Bay Lane, Hurst Drive north to Kempview Lane and Hurst Drive south to Wallwin’s Way. View map.
  3. Little Avenue south to Big Bay Point Road, Huronia Road east to Yonge Street. View map.
  4. Yonge Street from Huronia Road to MacLaren Avenue. View map.
  5. Welham Road, north of Big Bay Point Road, Hamilton Road, Truman Road and Mayes Court. View map.

Residents and businesses may experience some water discoloration for short durations following outages and should follow these guidelines once watermain swabbing is completed:

  • Turn on a cold water tap and let the water run for a few minutes. 
  • Do not choose a tap that has a water filter connected to it, or the sediment may clog your filter. 
  • Do not use a hot water tap because it could draw sediment into your hot water tank. 
  • Collect some water in a light-coloured cup or container to see if it is clear. Proceed to use the water if it is clear. If the water doesn’t clear in 5 minutes, wait 30 minutes and try again.
  • During the outage, water pressure will come and go, but please do not run any water during this time period as it could cause large quantities of sediment to plug your service/plumbing/appliances etc.

Apartment property managers, landlords and business operators:

  • Turn on a cold water tap near the water shut off valve (e.g. a tap in the mop sink in the maintenance room) and let the water run for a few minutes. 
  • Collect some water in a light-coloured cup or container to see if it is clear.
  • Restore water to the rest of the building only when the water is clear.

The water may be cloudy because air captured in the water forms tiny bubbles. These bubbles are harmless and will disappear if the water sits for a few minutes. If water is still discoloured after two to three hours, please call the Water Operations Branch at 705-792-7920. 

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. 


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.

Looks like your screen is a bit too small

The page you are attempting to view is not currently compatible with the dimensions of your device. Please visit this page on a larger screen.