Most water users know that leaking water pipes can be an expensive waste of water. It is especially true for cities. The City of San Marcos addresses the issue every year by conducting a leak detection survey.
Since San Marcos started the annual survey of the water system, the city has reduced the water loss from more than 36 percent in 1997 to 11 percent in 2009.
“Especially during a drought, water loss becomes an important issue,” said Tom Taggart, the city’s director of public services. “We try to stay ahead of the game by constantly seeking out new ways to improve and maintain the integrity of the distribution system. This keeps the cost to the consumer down in the long run and prevents worse problems from occurring.”
San Marcos has engaged the help of Samco Leak Detection Services of Austin for the past eight years to help reduce the amount of water disappearing through underground leaks.
This year’s leak detection survey was conducted along 75 miles of water mains during a three-week period in late August and early September. The leak detection survey covers a fourth of the city’s 300 miles of water mains each year.
The team found 58 leaks which ranged from 24-inch mains to 3/8-inch lines on the system.
Technicians actually listen for leaks, using sophisticated acoustic equipment as they monitor the water lines. When a leak is detected and pinpointed, it is plotted on a map with a Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinate. Repair crews can then locate and address the problem according to its magnitude and impact.
City water distribution manager Tony Salinas and his crews repair the leaks in priority order. One of the worst leaks was found along the railroad tracks, in a remote area, between Wonder World Drive and McCarty Lane. A 12-inch line was leaking inside a concrete vault. Inspectors had to hike to the site to find the line.
A leaking 12-inch main in a neighborhood was another difficult problem. The leak was not initially visible on the surface and it took public water distribution crews 18 hours to make the repairs, from 8 a.m. until 2 a.m.
“What really makes the biggest difference over time is when a city has the foresight to systematically monitor for leaks and make repairs on an on-going basis,” said Sam Godfrey, President of Samco Leak Detection Services.Email | Print