Press-Republican

March 25, 2013

Water leaks waste energy, resources

By DARINA NAIDU
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Leaks can account for 10,000 gallons of water per year in a household.

That’s enough water to wash nearly 10 months’ worth of laundry or fill a backyard swimming pool, Lori Fisher, director of the Lake Champlain Committee in Burlington, said in a news release. 

The organization is encouraging people to find and fix water leaks at their homes and businesses.

Even in a region like the Lake Champlain Basin, where water seems to be plentiful, leakage is a common problem in many households.

“Water leaks are a waste of water and a waste of money,” said Village of Rouses Point Chief Water Plant Operator Bryon Gelineault.

In Rouses Point, residential customers are charged a flat rate every month, so they do not get charged extra for water leaks.

In Plattsburgh however, users pay for how much water they use.

“It is what goes in the meter,” Scott Stoddard, Town of Plattsburgh wastewater director said. “If the leaks are captured by the meter, they will be charged higher.”

Stoddard said the department does a follow up with the customers who have high water consumption.

If leaks are found, the department’s Water Leaks policy enables customers to apply for a potential adjustment to their bill.

CHECK FOR LEAKS

Water leaks in household can not only increase people’s bill, but also pollute the water that leaves homes and goes into Lake Champlain.

According to the Lake Champlain Committee, even though sewage treatment facilities eliminate phosphorus pollution from the water that leaves homes, the effectiveness of this process is decreased when the waste is diluted by leaked tap water.

Water leakage also wastes energy, and Fisher says moving the water to where it will be used is a highly energy intensive process.

“Letting a faucet run for five minutes uses as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours,” she said.

To help people save water, the Lake Champlain Committee advises customers to check their water meter before and after a two-hour period of no water usage. If the meter does not remain constant, the chance is there is a leakage.

For toilets with silent leaks, a few drops of food coloring can be put in the tank, and it will be seen in the bowl before flushing if there is a leak.

FACEBOOK TIPS

The committee is joining with the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program to promote Fix A Leak Week this week.

“It goes on nationwide, and it is focused on water conservation and how to reduce waste,” Mike Winslow, committee staff scientist, told the Press-Republican.

The committee posts recommendations on its Facebook page, among them: “Point sprinklers away from pavement, check outdoor hoses and spigots for leaks, and select native plants in your landscaping and gardening that will tolerate the region’s natural rainfall levels.” 

It also suggests the use of a WaterSense-labeled faucet aerator, which usually costs less than $5 and can be found at hardware stores.

WaterSense models are tested and certified to use 20 percent less water and work as well as or better than standard models, the release said.

“As a WaterSense partner, we are encouraging consumers to find and fix leaks to save water,” Fisher said.