Water FAQs

Frequently asked questions regarding the Village of Berkeley Public Works Water Division:


 Buffalo Boxes or B-Boxes

What is a Buffalo box? 

The Buffalo-type valve box (B-box) is the shut-off valve that allows the Public Works Department or a plumber to shut off water to your home under emergency circumstances.  It is usually located in the parkway area of your lot, (the area between the curb and sidewalk). 

Will Public Works raise/lower the Buffalo box in my parkway?

Yes.  Under some circumstances the ground around the B-box may settle, causing the B-box to protrude above grade, which creates a trip or mowing hazard, or the B-box may become buried below grade.  The B-box should always be up to grade and accessible in case of emergency.  If your B-box is not accessible or protrudes too high above ground, please contact us so that the necessary repairs can be made.

 Hydrant Flushing

Is my water safe to drink after flushing?

Your water is safe to drink. Occasionally, water becomes discolored after hydrant flushing. If this happens, run your cold water tap for a few minutes until the water clears. If it doesn't clear the first time, wait a few minutes and run the water again. You should avoid washing clothes until the water clears.

Why is the water rusty?

As described in the previous section, fire hydrants are periodically opened to flush water mains within the system. Additionally, Fire and Public Works Department personnel routinely use hydrants through daily activities such as firefighting and sanitary sewer cleaning. These actions, as well as some construction efforts, may result in brief periods during which you may observe moderate discoloration in your tap water.

As a result of the flushing procedure, residents in the immediate vicinity of the work may experience temporary discoloration of their water. This discoloration consists primarily of harmless silt and precipitates and does not affect the safety of the water. If you experience discoloration in your water after hydrants have been flushing in your neighborhood, clear the pipes in your own home by running water faucets for a minute or two.

What about the water pipes in my own home?

This same philosophy of water line preventive maintenance is one that you should use in your own home. Your home's water heater should be drained and flushed at least once a year to keep it working efficiently and to protect the quality of water inside your home. Also, if you go out of town and there is no water use in your home for a week or more, when you return it's always a good idea to run all your faucets for a minute or so before using the water. This ensures that you don't use any stagnant water that may have developed in your home's pipes while you were away.

 Water Meter Reading

What is an MIU / Water Meter Transmitter?

Automatic meter reading gives the meter reader the ability to read meters without entering your home. The meter reader uses a village vehicle, equipped with a handheld receiver/recorder, which receives a radio signal from the electronic transmitter attached to the water meter on the inside of your home.

What powers the reader? Will the battery need to be replaced in the future?  

A small nickel cadmium battery powers the very small radio transmitter on the inside of the grey meter reading box and the life of each transmitter is expected to be approximately 8-10 years after installation, at which time the transmitter will need to be replaced.

What are the benefits of having this type of system?

This system allows the Village to get accurate, actual inside meter readings with no inconvenience to the homeowner beyond installation and replacement.  The MIU transmitters provide accurate reads while the radio transmission itself should not interfere with any other devices.