02/26/04 — Mt. Olive studies water loss

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Mt. Olive studies water loss

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on February 26, 2004 1:58 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The town's water system is losing 37 percent of its water, the town board was told Thursday during a workshop.

Some of Mount Olive's water mains are 100 years old. The valves are leaking on some of the 40-year-old water meters. Fifty-seven fire hydrants are leaking.

The leaks are costing the town $620,000 a year, said Special Projects Director Maylon Weeks.

State officials have told him that Mount Olive is going to have to cut its water loss down to 10 percent if the town wants to continue receiving grants.

"We'll never get our lines to 100 percent," he told the board. He said he would be happy if he were able to cut the loss down to 20 percent.

He said he wants to replace 400 of the town's aged meters, in the west part of Mount Olive. It would cost the town about $88,000. To replace all the meters would cost $500,000, he said. "If the town board says go ahead and spend the $88,000, I feel in two years we can pay that money back and save revenue. We could save $300,000 a year and pay it off in two years if we did them all."

But he said he would be happy if he could do some this year and then more next year.

At one point, the town had 65,000 gallons a day going from a water main into the sewer system. But the water lines are hidden under the ground. ".... We the citizens are paying for this lost water," said Weeks. "It costs us the same to use it as to dump it in the ground."

Town Manager Ray McDonald said the water leaks have been a problem for years. But the hydrant leaks were a small problem compared to some of the town's other problems.

"The attitude used to be 'make it work today, and we'll worry about tomorrow when we get there.' We're at the point where it's all happening," said McDonald. "You may get a phone call some day saying Center Street has caved in. ... It's nobody's fault. It's about time and age of equipment. It don't work forever. You have to catch up with time."

The Public Works Department monitors the crushed line below Center Street every week and hopes to get grant money to fix the problem. "If we don't get any grant money, we're in trouble," said McDonald.