Purdy officials consider new water leak detection system

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

More than 50 percent water loss prompts search for answers

Facing growing problems from lost water, the Purdy City Council entertained a revolutionary detection system proposed by Utility Services, the firm managing maintenance on the city's water towers.

Tom Stechmann, water system consultant with Atlanta-based Utility Services, said his firm now offers two new services. One is a leak detection system using technology from Europe that no other American company utilizes. The approach pumps helium into water mains, finding problems that traditional acoustic systems miss.

"It's leak detection on steroids," Stechmann said.

Presently, less than 50 percent of the water pumped in Purdy is reaching meters. Approximately 3.5 million gallons are pumped and not reaching the city's 481 metered water customers.

Stechmann said water meters typically under-measure water usage. Utility Services would replace the city's system with new meters, all of which could be measured without meter readers from city hall. People could see higher bills and complain, but the bills would only be a more accurate reflection of the water used.

The company's asset management system would store data using internet cloud technology. Similar systems installed by Utility Services are now in use in the cities of Kimberling City, Lockwood and Concordia. Stechmann said Utility Services would become the city's partner, ask for no payment for seven years, manage software support and upgrades, then maintain the system for 15 years. After that, the city would own the system, and could sign a contract extension if interested.

Cost for the entire system in Kimberling City was $12,000, Stechmann said. For a city the size of Purdy, Stechmann said installation would take approximately six months.

"We changed our meters 13 or 14 years ago," said Mayor Steve Roden. "Some of our water loss is due to meters, some is from leaks. We're grasping at straws now. We have to look at changing meters."

"We've had 10 major leaks in the last seven months," said City Clerk Debbie Redshaw. "That's more than ever. We're probably down $5,000 in water revenue from last year."

Alderman Bo Prock calculated the city is presently losing $700 a month in water sales due to leaks or meter problems. The proposal would also free up a day and a half of Public Works Superintendent Dave Gatewood's time. Roden said he dealt with Stechmann in Monett, where Utility Services is under contract for water tower maintenance. Aldermen viewed the proposal favorably and agreed to discuss the matter further.

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