Bath Water Works losing 56% of water due to leaking pipes
Chief Water Operator Terry Largent reported to the Town of Bath Water Committee that the town's water system is losing 56% of its water to leaks. Largent made his report at the Tuesday, January 8, 9 a.m. meeting.
Largent reported that Water Works had pumped 57,636,100 gallons of water during the three months of September, October and November. However, meter readings and billing totaled only 25,497,310 gallons.
According to Largent, most problems with leaks are occurring outside of town in areas not covered by the recent water line replacement project. Since the completion of the project, water line pressure has increased.
The increase in water pressure in the system has caused older pipes outside of the project area to fail. Largent said that recent leaks included a two inch line break near West Virginia Spring Water on Harrison Avenue. That pipe leaked for two days before it was discovered and repaired.
Other recent leaks have occurred on Independence Street above Laurel Avenue, at the Widmyer School, and on Jones and Broadway streets. The pipes that are leaking are either old galvanized pipes or polyurethane pipes.
Mayor Susan Webster
explained that blue polyure-thane pipes used in the
1990s and touted as lasting
forever are failing. Other
jurisdictions are having the same problem. The manufacturer of the blue polyurethane pipes went out of business years ago.
In addition to old pipes, what we thought was fixed
in the 90's was not, Webster said.
Webster noted that in recent years the town has added a water storage tank, upgraded the water filtration plant, extended the system out to Green Gate Road and completed the water line replacement project in town. But more needs to be done.
There is no end in sight, just one project after another. We are looking forward to the next project, Webster said.
Largent has proposed the town replace 22,000 linear feet of water line mainly outside of town. This essentially would be a continuation of the recent water line replacement project.
The town is working with Randy Watson of Thrasher Engineering of Charleston to get a cost estimate. Thrasher Engineering designed and provided oversight of the recent water line replacement project.
Councilman and Finance Committee Chairman David Crosby is working on the second draft of a new rate ordinance. A rate increase is necessary to fund any new water projects.
According to Webster, the town must build up a reserve and show increased revenue in order to qualify for new loans and be able to service the debt.
We will have to start putting money aside way before the next project starts, Webster said.
The rate increase being
proposed by Crosby would
set a flat rate of $9 for every 1,000 gallons used over the minimum 6,000 gallons.
The current minimum quarterly payment is $55.80 plus tax
for up to 6,000 gallons consumed.
continues on page 5)
In addition, Crosby is proposing a $2,000 capacity improvement fee for all new water taps. The proceeds would set put aside for expanding the existing water plant. Other water jurisdictions charge fees ranging from $1,650 to $3,000.
The town is limited by the state to pumping 1,008,000 gallons a day from the Berkeley Springs. In order to be able to pump that much water, the town's water plant will need a major expansion.
The $2,000 capacity improvement fee will not include the actual cost of the tap and meter installation. Currently, a fee of $577.50 is charged. Crosby is proposing that the fee for tap and meter installation be billed at actual cost.
Right now we are losing money on each tap, Crosby said.
Crosby estimates the new rates proposed in the draft ordinance will bring in an additional $100,000 a year in revenue. He hopes to have the new ordinance passed and rates in place by April.
The Water Committee believes the new rates will encourage customers, especially large consumers, to conserve water.
People have no problem paying high costs for cable television, Webster said, commenting on people's priorities.
But when it comes to water, they think it should be piped in for free, Crosby added.
Moratorium still in place
Largent said that pumps are running at capacity at the water plant.
He explained that raw water pumps used to fill the storage tanks run an average of 21.5 hours a day. But the pumps at the plant that pump out the finished product, after the water has been treated, are running 24 hours a day, or at 100 percent capacity.
West Virginia Public Service Commission requires a moratorium to be lifted if water usage drops below 80 percent of capacity.
Currently the town has 30 requests on a waiting list, many from developers, totally 402 new water taps.
Webster explained that the Health Department has high standards that have to be met and the town is now putting out a quality product.
If we put more people on the system than the system can serve, we are creating a health problem, Webster said.
Crosby said he would have a problem solving some of the capacity problems by mixing water in from other sources with the town's supply of water from the springs.
What defines this town is water, Crosby said.