East Palestine working to ease water loss

EAST PALESTINE– In January, Councilman Alan Cohen expressed his concern for the discrepancy in water production versus water billed in the village’s yearly water report. Council scheduled Monday’s utility committee meeting to discuss the issue with water and wastewater superintendent John Jurjavcic.

The village’s total water loss in 2019 was 33 percent compared to the national average of 30 percent, according to Jurjavcic. While some states require its municipalities to report water loss, Ohio does not, but Jurjavcic believes that could be coming soon.

A leak detection company has come in multiple times throughout the year since 2017 and has only found two substantial leaks over that period, and the company is scheduled to come next in the spring. Jurjavcic said that they looked over the water meter software to make sure that there were no errors, and he is confident that the meters are in good shape.

After some discussion, Councilman Doug Simpson clarified that the correct figure to look at is “unaccounted for water” opposed to “lost water.”

Simpson said the water department should be able to calculate the gap by taking how much water was leaked per minute by measuring flow and applying that flow information to the length of the leak. That way, Jurjavcic can add it to the monthly report to clear things up.

“We can calculate where this water is going,” Cohen said. “It looks bad when you see it on paper and say that we’ve lost 33 percent in December, but it seems like we can narrow that gap a little bit to make it more clear.”

Another factor that council took into consideration is that when the usage is down, it makes the water loss percentage look higher. The usage fluctuation can affect the unaccounted water as well.

“We’re looking at water production and water billed, but we can’t do it,” Simpson said. “We have to look at water produced versus what was billed versus what was unaccounted for. Once you add the billed and unaccounted for water against the water produced, you’re going to see that narrow a lot more.”

In other business, Jurjavcic shared part of the asset management plan, which outlined the pipe inventory and how old each pipe is. Within the village, there are over 50 pipes that are 30 years past their projected lifespan. While he acknowledged that the village wouldn’t be able to fund a full pipeline replacement project, he wanted council to know that it could be part of the reason why it is hard to get accurate readings for unaccounted water.