Steve Brandt has an article in the StarTribune that talks about the amount of water lost to leaky pipes in Minneapolis. The issue here is that a certain percentage of water that’s treated by the city never makes it to end users due to leaks in the system.
It turns out that there are more than a few more leaks than were previously reported:
Two years ago, the city told the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in a water-supply plan that it was losing 4 percent of the water pumped into its system. It said that its rate was less than half of the standard set by the DNR and a national trade group.
But according to an internal analysis by city finance officials, released by Internal Audit Director Magdy Mossaad on Wednesday, the real figure is 15.75 percent. That means that bill-paying homeowners and businesses subsidize the cost of treating an extra gallon of water for every six gallons they do use.
So, we thought we had a 4% loss but it’s actually 15.75 by the most recent measure. While we’d like it to be zero, that’s not going to happen.
The article does mention that St. Paul has managed to get their loss down to under 10%. That sounds like a solid goal, and I hope we can achieve that. I’ve recently done a small part by reporting a ruptured pipe along Lake St.
But, one thing the article doesn’t discuss is whether 4, 10, or 15.75% are good, bad, or average figures for municipalities. A quick trip to Google helped me find this nugget:
Public water systems serving more than one million people in the United States average a loss of 17 percent. New York City pegs its loss at 10 percent: daily water use is just more than one billion gallons. The world loses around 33 percent of its drinking water each year.
So, without doing anything, Minneapolis appears to be above average, but not as good as St. Paul or New York. That’s something to strive for.
One city that’s kicking Minneapolis and St. Paul’s butt on this issue is Vancouver, who had a 4.2% water loss for 2010.
And, if you want to see what low taxes in South Dakota achieves, check out Montrose, SD’s water loss of 48%. Pissing away nearly half of the water they treat through leaky pipes seems like a strange way to run a utility to me.