Archive for Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Water leaks bring need for conservation

October 9, 2001

A leak in Baldwin City's water line as well as a leak in Rural Water District No. 4's water line has officials asking residents to conserve water for the next few days.

The leak in Baldwin's line, which had been releasing 75,000 gallons of water per hour, has been narrowed down to a 50-ft. section of pipe in the Baker Wetlands that carries water from Lawrence to Baldwin, City Administrator Larry Paine said.

Until the leak can be located and fixed, Paine said residents need to conserve water.

"Wasted water means it comes out of the tower," he said. "For the most part, we are not replacing that water at this point."

Paine said the city's water supply should be at a sufficient level until the leak is found and repaired. At this time, the water going to the tower has been turned off so no more water leaks out of the pipe, he said. But if it was absolutely necessary, the water could be turned back on to fill the tower.

"We don't really want to do that," he said. "We want to keep the water leaking out at a minimum.

"But that doesn't mean people can't take showers and baths and wash clothes and wash dishes," he said. "It just means that when you do a load of laundry, don't just wash one thing."

The leak in the Baldwin line has apparently caused similar problems with the Rural Water District No. 4 line, which runs parallel to it, according to Scott Schultz, district administrator for RWD No. 4. Tuesday morning Schultz was fearful that the Baldwin leak was causing similar problems for the district because water pressure from its line was dropping. Mid afternoon it was confirmed that the district line was also leaking and water conservation measures are also necessary in the rural area.

"We're asking our customers to conserve water, too," said Schultz.

The leak from the Baldwin line has apparently washed away the dirt from around the RWD No. 4 line and either a coupling has been loosened or a leak has been caused, he said.

Paine said it could take anywhere from one to five days to repair the hole in the 12-inch iron pipe, which has been buried under six-feet of earth since the 1970s when the area was cropland. The line is now covered with standing water making it difficult for crews to find the leak, he said.

"Right now, they're starting to build a levy road out to where they think the hole is," he said.

Crews will then have to build a berm around the leak and drain the water in order to fix it, he said.

This isn't the first leak that has occurred in the wetlands.

A hole the size of a half-dollar was found in the pipe in 1998, which took $100,000 and five days to repair.

Paine said after the 1998 leak, Baldwin wanted to lay a plastic pipe on a dry portion of the wetlands. But the Army Corps of Engineers denied the permit to build.

"If we had been able to do it then, we would have already had the pipe in the ground," he said, "and this wouldn't have been a problem this week."

He said the South Lawrence Trafficway and the Kansas Department of Transportation might help change the location of the existing water pipe.

"With the realignment of the SLT, we've got the opportunity to get the water line moved with the help of KDOT," he said. "Then this won't happen in the future."

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