Like many public water utilities, the City of Grants Pass has an aging infrastructure, with parts of its system dating back to the 1930s. As infrastructure deteriorates with age and use, hidden water leaks become routine, leading to wasted water, wasted energy and reduced capacity to serve communities.
To help locate and repair leaks, Grants Pass recently participated in Energy Trust of Oregon’s Municipal Water System Leak Repair offering, which provides cash incentives to municipalities for assessing and repairing underground leaks in clean water systems.
Grants Pass regularly monitors its older pipes to ensure systems are working at peak performance. The city contracts with Energy Trust Trade Ally American Leak Detection to conduct routine surveys of selected pipes, looking for signs of leaks. In a recent assessment, the company found 12 leaks of various sizes that needed attention and encouraged the city to investigate Energy Trust’s incentive offering.
American Leak Detection uses non-invasive sonic listening equipment to find system leaks. “We touch and listen at every available contact point in the system – meter, valve, and hydrant – to listen for leak noise. In four days, we tested 20 miles of pipe and found several leaks losing nearly 25,000 gallons of water per day,” said Shari Botermans, CEO, American Leak Detection’s Medford office.
“The leaks were each losing between 2 and 3.5 gallons of water per minute, which adds up to millions of gallons of water wasted,” said Rod Vinyard, water distribution specialist, City of Grants Pass. “The consequences of doing nothing about leaks can be brutal. Detection helps us identify leaks we can’t see on the surface.”
Left untreated, leaks can cause all kinds of damage, such as sudden line ruptures that lead to costly emergency repairs and potential damage such as sinkholes, erosion and flooding. Leaks may increase the need for infrastructure investments to support additional pumping capacity to meet customer needs.
“Hidden leaks also waste energy,” continued Vinyard. “As the flow rate increases, the system’s water pumps work harder and need more horsepower to function. By repairing leaks, we reduce flow, which helps the pumps function more efficiently and waste less energy.”
Once all the leaks are repaired, Grants Pass expects to save approximately 12,500 kilowatt hours of electricity per year and earn more than $6,000 in cash incentives from Energy Trust for the energy savings and initial assessment.
“Energy Trust’s incentives help us stretch our limited maintenance budget and put more back into improving our system,” said Kyrrha Sevco, business operations supervisor, City of Grants Pass.
For more information on water and wastewater incentives, visit www.energytrust.org/wastewatertreatment or call 503.928.3154.