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City continues to reduce water losses

The city of Cairo is beginning to see results from a major initiative begun last May to combat water losses and the city council received an update on the progress Tuesday night.
Public Works Director Raymond Stokes and Public Works Superintendent Darin Todd briefed the council on the water losses and outlined the on-going work to identify and repair water leaks.
Prior to last May the water losses or the difference between the amount of water the city pumped out of the ground versus the amount of water it billed customers for was in the 25-30 percent range. The average now has dropped to 12.6 percent.
Stokes told councilmen he is confident his department can get it down to the 10 percent range in the near future.
Since July 2011, the city has repaired upwards of 200 water leaks and replaced between 650 and 660 water meters.
According to Stokes, meters that have logged a million gallons or more begin to meter slower and are less accurate. City records indicate that 539 residential meters in the system ranged from one to two million gallons so the public works department has concentrated on replacing those meters.
Superintendent Todd presented the councilmen with a sample of the new compound meters the city is using to replace the dated turbine meters. The new meters have a guaranteed 20 year life and have no moving parts.
The city currently has just over 200 of the new meters in the field and other neighboring cities including Moultrie and Americus have switched to this type of meter.
Todd pointed out the meters can be read electronically and can even be accessed by a laptop computer to pull up a 30 day history in the field.
City Manager Chris Addleton said he anticipates seeing some revenue impact from the changing out of the older meters.
During the update Tuesday night, Stokes informed the council that all deadend manholes have been checked and water leaks in them repaired and water services removed. Stokes said that years ago before the city had sewer machines to flush out the sewer system water services were installed in deadend manholes that could be filled and used to flush out the system. That is no longer a practice, but Stokes said that many of those water services were broken and leaking into the stormwater collection system.
The city officials said that some water leaks are easy to identify, but others are more difficult. Stokes also said that repairs of water leaks are often delayed because of the call before you dig regulations the city must operate under.
Mayor Pro Tem James H. (Jimmy) Douglas said he sympathized with the city crews. “It is hard to explain to a resident why you can’t just go out and dig up the street and repair the water leak when you can see where it is leaking,” he said.
Tuesday night, City Manager Addleton also reported that the city had saved approximately $200,000 on the rehabilitation of the #1 water plant at the Energy Services complex by using city staff to do much of the work and sub out the rest as opposed to hiring a contractor.
The city solicited bids for the project and the lowest bid received was $750,357. The in-house managed project cost, according to Addleton, was $451,681.
Stokes pointed out that the rehabilitation of the #1 water plant provided the city with an additional 600,000 gallons of storage capacity and the ability to maintain and improve water pressure to all areas of the city.
“Until this project was completed if we had a lightning strike or failure at the #2 water plant on MacIvor Drive we would have been dead in the water. This gives us 600,000 gallons that can be used in the case of a big fire or to give us time to get the other plant up and running again. We didn’t have that backup supply before,” Stokes said.
The additional capacity does not provide a 24-hour supply, but it is a cushion the city needed, according to Stokes. The city currently pumps approximately 1.5 million gallons of water daily.
“This is all very positive,” Mayor Richard VanLandingham commented.
“I just appreciate what you are doing,” Mayor Pro Tem Douglas added.
In related news, City Manager Addleton reported that maintenance work at the Hilltop elevated water tank on 17th Ave. N.W. would be performed on Thursday and that bids would be opened on June 5 for the Seventh Avenue S.E. lift station.

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