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Major project started Monday to clear water main lines in St. Augustine

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Updated: 10/26/2013 12:37 am

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Major changes are now underway for one Jacksonville-area city's water system.

A four-year process to get rid of the "red water" worries for folks in St. Augustine started Monday.

Some of the city's water mains are close to 100 years old. For the first time, the city is closing valves and shooting water through every line to clear them out.

"We've had a slight copper color to our water in toilets and sinks now and again. It seems to come and go, but it does leave stains," said David Stanevich, maintenance manager for Memorial Presbyterian Church.

St. Augustine Public Works Director Martha Graham said the work happening around downtown Monday is the beginning of a project to clean out the water main lines supplying drinking water. The city has been fielding complaints for years about what's known as "red water."

"We've had an ongoing issue with old water mains, and cast-iron pipes have been corroding, and that adds color and rust, iron to the water," said Graham.

The crews will be going street by street, water main by water main. It's a $70,000 undertaking. In the process, homeowners are being told not to use or drink the water until crews finish with their neighborhood.

"Check the color of their water, let the water run for five or 10 minutes, make sure that it clears before they start using it," Graham said.

She added a little sacrifice now is going to go a long way.

"I think that's an aggressive action; we're always happy to see projects like that," Stanevich said. "I think water is an important future resource of ours, and we need to take care of it."

The lines will now be flushed continuously every four years. The crews are also going through and replacing any pipes that are corroded.

Neighbors may also notice significant flooding down their streets as crews work to flush the lines.

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