Councilman want to track down water loss

EAST PALESTINE -Councilman Don Elzer wants to know where 25 million gallons of water has gone.

Elzer asked the question during this week’s council meeting with regards to a discussion that began at the May 27 meeting about water leaking from the village’s system.

“That’s the swimming pool 13 times over. That’s a lot of water missing. That much water is not just disappearing,” he said.

It was discovered last month the public pool at the park was leaking water and needed to be repaired, resulting in a later opening date. The pool opened at noon on Saturday.

Village Manager Pete Monteleone has said the leaks were the result of the harsh winter. The repairs cost $4,830 and the village is seeking grant funding to buy a pool liner in the future.

According to the monthly report provided to council by Water and Wastewater Superintendent John Jurjavcic, the plant produced 25 million gallons of water for the month of May alone and only billed for 7.5 million, which actually leaves about 17.5 million gallons not accounted for.

(Water production is recorded from the first of the month to the last of the month while billing is read from the middle of the month to the middle of the next month.)

The village billed an average of 7 million to 8 million gallons between January and April, with roughly 15 million to 16 million produced during those months, showing water loss is not uncommon for the system, although it has not typically been as high.

Jurjavcic was not at the council meeting but said on Tuesday the department checks on leaks if they are reported, and he isn’t aware of any major leaks or water accumulation around town.

Village officials are encouraging residents to call if they see any unusual puddles or water running along roads anywhere.

Jurjavcic said the loss has not been so drastic as to result in loss of pressure to customers or any other interruptions in the system. There were no low pressure reports for April or May, according to his report.

He added it is hard to account for all of the water because some meters are old and do not gauge properly and all of the municipal buildings don’t even have meters.

Leaks are not necessarily uncommon for municipal systems, he noted.

He said he reached out to water superintendents in both Columbiana and Salem and was told Columbiana was at a 14.6 percent loss and Salem averaged about 23 percent loss each month.

Since January of this year the East Palestine water department has repaired or replaced equipment 27 times, with 11 of those instances occurring in January when freezing temperatures caused several line breaks. The department has checked on 17 reported leaks so far this year, according to the report.

In the meantime Monteleone is looking into funding for a leak detection program for the system’s 28 miles of water lines.

In other business, council approved:

– Emergency resolutions excluding the approval of Salem for an alternate method of apportionment of local government funding (LGF) revenue for 2015, and approving a new alternate method of apportionment to be distributed.

– Giving a second reading to legislation authorizing Monteleone to bid and award a contract for a new water well and first readings to legislation to appropriate matching funds for the Sumner Street Bridge grant through the Columbiana County Economic Development Department, and adopting the 2015 budget.

– A resolution accepting the amounts and rates for the upcoming fiscal year.

A finance committee meeting was set for 6 p.m. before the June 23 meeting to go over the 2015 budget.