Cassville water loss numbers dropping

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

In 2009, Cassville was experiencing 60 percent water loss, if not higher, and Steve Walensky, public works director, said great strides have been made to bring that number down.

Starting in Cassville in early 2011, Walensky has seen a number of changes to the city's water system that has dropped water losses to its lowest point in years, only 20 percent.

"We finally started getting a handle on metering," he said. "Some of the meters were still very significant in size, and things got a lot better when we started working with the Rural Missouri Water Association in pinpointing water losses."

Walensky said the city has a more accurate gage now of how much water may be lost due to the amount of psi going through a pipe, the size of the pipe and the type of the crack.

"There were a lot of factors we were not taking advantage of, and we have more engineering technology helping us determine what's going on in our water system," he said.

Walensky said back in 2009, the lack of technology probably meant the 60 percent water loss number was inaccurate, and not a good kind of inaccurate.

"Unfortunately, they were probably inaccurate, and the real number was probably worse," he said. "About 60 percent was the number documented in the 2009 master plan, but that number was probably higher."

Walensky said since he started working for the city, he has been taking steps to keep water losses as low as possible, shooting for the below-10-percent goal set forth by the Department of Natural Resources.

"I applied a year ago for a DNR grant for a hydraulic water distribution study, and we got that grant and the results have just been reported this week," he said. "We plan to apply for a phase two grant to identify potential weak points in the pipes, then begin construction to repair those high-risk lines."

Walensky said repairing the pipes is the last item on the list of what should be done to reach under 10 percent water loss.

Walensky said the city has already done work to have annual checks on the city's wells, rehabilitated the city's water towers, and brokered the deal for new, more accurate meters, which replace some that are more than a decade old and could be under-reading a customer's water usage.

"The last thing is piping," Walensky said. "If we can get the grant money and do construction to fix these hot spots for leaks, it will be like having a whole new water system," he said. "I'm very appreciative of the state for offering such grants, and I'm very aggressive in taking advantage of them."

Walensky said decreasing the water losses is a way for the city to save money, and the water and sewer departments have had trouble staying in the black over the last nearly 20 years.

"The water department and sewer department combined had not been in the black since 1997 before we started to break even last year," Walensky said. "The water department was not making enough money because there hadn't been a rate increase from 2001 to 2011."

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