Water leak creating a big money drain

LEETONIA – The water department will be seeking an outside audit to determine the cause of an apparent loss of water inside the village.

Council on Wednesday granted permission to Village Administrator Gary Phillips to seek the audit of the water department’s meter reads and billing program, which will cost approximately $5,000, after he reported a monthly difference of almost 2 million gallons between what the village is billed by Salem and what the village is billing its customers. He said the numbers have been consistent since the Salem-Leetonia water line began service in 2008.

Phillips said if the audit checks out okay, the department will need to bring in equipment to determine if there is a leak in the line, billed at an hourly cost that could total over $10,000. If no leak is found, the department will have to randomly pull individual meters throughout the village, at a cost of up to $5,000 per commercial meter.

Phillips said he doesn’t think it is a leak in the line because there is no evidence on the surface.

“A leak this size, there would be water coming up on the surface somewhere,” he told council.

He explained that there are meters at the pit at Lisbon-Canfield and Butcher roads that Salem checks monthly and the village daily, and the backup meter at the reservoir building is checked each month. He said all the readings match up which means the water loss is somewhere in village.

The cost to replace all individual meters in the village was last estimated at $360,000, Phillips said, which could result in high water rates for village customers.

Currently the village is paying Salem over $3 per 1,000 gallons, Phillips said.