The world’s water loss problems in a nutshell

March 21, 2011 at 6:45 pm 1 comment

Sometimes, just when we think that explaining the intricacies of water loss and the plethora of issues that surround it is too much, a great story comes by and explains everything in a nutshell. A recent story by Claire Osborn of The American Statesman (a Texan publication) does just that.

We’ll try to break the story up into a snapshot of the issues surrounding water loss and the problem of water scarcity:

    (1) The Problem: When Water Loss is Bad, You Just Produce More Water

    “The Liberty Hill Water Supply Corp. is working on plans to spend about $300,000 on a new well to supply its nearly 600 customers, even while the corporation has been losing about 45 percent of the water it pumps from its existing wells for at least a year, a board member said.

    The corporation has five wells that draw water from the Trinity Aquifer and had to buy water from the Chisholm Trail Municipal Utility District last summer when it couldn’t meet demand, some of its board members said.

    “If they cut the 45 percent water loss, they wouldn’t need the new well right now,” said Kerry Russell, an attorney for the City of Liberty Hill who has been involved with water supply issues.”

    They sure have a point — cutting water loss is the cheapest and most effective way to save the need to produce more water.

    (2) The Big Picture, Water Scarcity, Makes Things Worse

    The story cites “falling water tables” as something that necessitates the new well, even if the 45% water loss is resolved.

    (3) The Funds to Solve Water Infrastructure Problems are Difficult to Come By

    “We’ve been discussing a new well for four years, but we haven’t had the finances to do it, and nobody has come forward with any type of land suitable for it,” said Tracy Wiggers, the board’s president.

    Now, with a $250,000 community development block grant from Williamson County and $50,000 of its own money, the water supply corporation hopes to have the new well finished by August, board member Charles Canady said.

    (4) When Water is Lost, People Can’t Tell Why and How

    “There could be leaks in the pipe joints and valves, and there is a possibility that the oldest largest meters are under-reading,” he said.

    Water board members disagreed this week about why the water loss issue hasn’t yet been solved.

    (5) Pipes are Old and Leaky

    Some of Liberty Hill’s pipes are about 45 years old, Steger said.

    (6) Knowing Why Water Loss Occurs Requires Expertise, Procedures and Funds

    Canady said McLeod had been given a device to measure water leaks but didn’t know how to use it. Canady also said that McLeod had refused the board’s offer to hire a field representative to help manage the day-to-day operations and also refused to follow Steger’s recommendations on how to reduce water loss.

    Wiggers said the board didn’t have enough money to follow some of Steger’s recommendations, which include replacing old water pipes and buying meters that cost $6,000 each to monitor water loss on some of the bigger lines.

    On Friday, McLeod said he thought he had made a breakthrough in the water loss problem by fixing a leak Thursday in a service line that runs to the Purser Estates subdivision. He said he thought the leak was responsible for the large water loss because after it was fixed, the booster pumps for the wells didn’t have to run for 13 hours — compared with every four or five hours normally.

    (7) Small Water Utilities Have Difficulties Resolving Their Issues

    “…the water supply corporation didn’t have enough money to hire a field representative to help him. He said he couldn’t get adequate training on the device to measure water loss, which the corporation borrowed during the fall from the Texas Water Development Board, because it was “deer season, and you don’t get anybody to work then.”

    That’s why consolidation may be a good idea –

    “The City of Liberty Hill has been working to transfer control of the water supply corporation to the city, which it is allowed to do under Texas law, Russell said.”

    McLeod, who is also a Liberty Hill City Council member, argues that the city cannot afford to run the water supply corporation, which already owes the federal government more than $1 million from a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development for upgrades made to the system in 2006.

    (8) Water Loss Keeps You Up at Night

    “On Friday, McLeod said he thought he had made a breakthrough in the water loss problem… “I’m so happy right now,” he said. “I’ve lost many hours of sleep wondering about this.”

     

    Water loss and Water Scarcity are serious business that affect us all. Innovation, such as TakaDu’s Water Infrastructure Monitoring, is not enough. The regulatory, utility and funding environment needs to exist to allow all utilities to save water by using the right technology within a well-managed network.

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    Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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