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actually a really good one ….

actually a really good one for the city.”

Leaks such as these are hard to detect. In some cases, when a water main breaks, water rises to the surface and runs down a street or ponds in a yard. These are invisible ones that occur underground and do not reveal themselves.

“It could’ve been going on for years and years,” Pieper said. ”It (the water) has made its natural little ravine to the storm sewer.

Also, she noted, it doesn’t take a massive main break to translate into significant water loss.

“Six thousand gallons a day can be a pencil-hole size,” she said.

The lost water is not necessarily costing the city a great deal of money. The city pumps an average of 150,000-160,000 gallons of water each day from seven different wells, and those supply plenty of water for the city’s needs. However, Pieper said PSC is urging the city to find and rectify the losses, and it will put less stress on the wells, pumps etc. if the city is not taking out water it doesn’t need.

“We don’t want it to cost us any more to make water so we can keep our water rates down,” Pieper said.

Another possible cost factor is for wastewater treatment. The city’s wastewater flow is directed to Greenwood for treatment before it is discharged into the Black River, and the city pays Greenwood for that service. Loyal is allowed to send as much as 124,000 gallons per day before extra charges kick in, so if the excess water puts the city over that limit, there is an associated cost.

“It could affect our bill to Greenwood,” Pieper said.

Water Works’ report was presented to the City Council at a May 19 monthly meeting, and the matter of fixing the leaks was referred to the Utility Committee. A discussion will be held on whether the city should pay to fix leaks on private property that normally would be the financial responsibility of the property owner.

If the leaks are on the private side of the curb, Pieper said the water is not going through the meter that determines household usage, so the owner is not paying for it. Therefore, she said, it would be difficult to convince a property owner to pay to tear up their yard to fix a leak that’s not costing them anything.

If the city decides to make the repairs, Pieper said it should be at a reasonable cost.

“We’re very fortunate because our city crew can do so much with their knowledge,” Pieper said.

The fixes would rectify a problem the PSC has been noting for years.

“We would be underneath the acceptable range for the PSC,” Pieper said. “They’re not hounding us, but it’s a good fix to make.”