Orchard City's water utility department is still on the trail of leaks in the town water distribution system that account for 27 percent loss of treated water, according to a water audit completed in February.
It is not clear whether the apparent loss is from water leaving the system or from water use that isn't being recorded on customer meters.
Numerous improvements and repairs to the system in recent years have not made a big difference in the stubbornly high treated water losses that have at times been estimated at 30 percent or higher.
Water conservation is becoming an issue of growing importance to domestic providers on the Western Slope. Communities on the dry and thirsty Front Range are pointing the finger of blame at the Western Slope for its large water consumption, most of which goes to agriculture.
But, water conservation efforts in Front Range cities have cut their per capita use to one-fourth that of per capita use on the Western Slope, by some estimates.
Last year, a major leak on the bottom side of a water distribution line along Highway 65 was discovered by Orchard City workers. It was thought at the time to be the source of a lot of the town's loss. The break was repaired, but system leakage continues.
At a March 6 work session, it was estimated that the best any water system can do in terms of water loss is 12 percent. Even the tightest municipal water systems are going to record that much loss, Mayor Don Suppes told the trustees.
So, moving forward, the town's water loss mitigation efforts will focus on finding and eliminating the 15 percent (i.e. 27 percent minus 12 percent) that isn't accounted for in the town's treated water billings, according to town staff.
The town is looking at several strategies for helping stem that loss. One area of concern is faulty meters that aren't accurately recording the amount of water flowing through them. When water meters fail, they always slow down, resulting in recording less water use than is actually taking place, say town officials.
But because the amount of gallons lost month to month doesn't fluctuate much despite seasonal variation in water use, it is thought that meters aren't a major contributor to the water loss problem.
An engineering firm is being retained to add automation equipment to the Tank Hill water tanks. That improvement is expected to lessen water loss from tank overfilling and spillage.
Also, the town is preparing to contract for a computerized model of the entire town system. When completed, it is hoped that model will aid in placement of "audit meters" at various locations on the in-town distribution system to monitor actual flow amounts at various points and pinpoint areas of loss.
Last fall town utility workers made improvements to the raw water supply springs on Grand Mesa to improve conservation and water use.blog comments powered by Disqus