Tiny Leak Wastes 1.4 Million Gallons of Drinking Water in Minnesota

Posted in: United States Water News, Water pipes
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Thousands of gallons of water was lost every day through a small hole in a small service line in the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District. The broken line was discovered and replaced last week.(CAROLYN LANGE | TRIBUNE)

Article courtesy of Carolyn Lange | June 18, 2015 | Grand Folks Herald | Shared as educational material

A dime-sized hole in a slender copper pipe could be the culprit in a 1.4 million-gallon loss of drinking water every month in the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District system.

Crews had been trying to find the source of the leak for the last six months, when the heavy water losses were first recorded.

They found it last week when water started pooling up along the North Shore Drive by Green Lake.

But even then the process to pinpoint the leak proved tricky as crews sought to isolate the break in soil so saturated with water that it was like “driving over Jello,” said Kandiyohi County Public Works Director Mel Odens, during a report Tuesday to the County Board.

After water to the area was turned off and on a few times, a small geyser erupted and crews saw that the problem was a small hole in a 1½-inch-diameter copper water service line to an unused lot.

A section of the busy county road was shut down June 10 while the pipe was dug up and replaced.

Odens said the unexpected project inconvenienced local residents and tourists driving to the popular Green Lake area, but he said work was done as fast as possible and the road was reopened by 4:30 p.m. Friday.

The repairs are estimated to cost $20,000 to $30,000.

That’s considerably greater than the estimated $1,000 to $2,000 in water that was lost in the last six months.

There’s hope that the fix will stop most of the water loss, although Odens said every system has some water that escapes.

The bigger concern, he said, is that similar holes and leaks could show up in other service lines in the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District.

The system was installed 15 years ago and Odens said the line should have lasted longer.

It’s possible “hot soil” from conductivity between the water line and alkaline soil could have increased the corrosion of the copper line.

“It’s a situation that happens from time to time and you just hope you don’t have a lot of them,” Odens said.

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