The Archbold municipal water system was unable to account for roughly one gallon of every five gallons produced in 2018.
That information is from a report presented to Archbold Village Council, Monday night, March 4.
A big part of the problem may have been resolved after discovery of a major leak at the former Shopko building.
Scott Schultz, water treatment plant superintendent, said plant workers track the amount of water produced, compared to the amount of water sold to customers.
The formula takes into account water that is not metered, including village water taps, hydrant flushing, and watering athletic fields in the village parks.
After those calculations were made, the amount of water unaccounted for in 2018 was 18.4%.
“To me, 10% is too much,” he told council.
In the 21 years prior to 2018, the amount of water unaccounted for reached highs of 16.8% in 2001 and 16.3% in 2008.
Between 2009-2017, the amount never reached double digits, hitting a low of 1.3% in 2015.
In his report, Schultz said he noticed the water loss began to trend upward in 2017. The amount went from 2.7% in 2016 to 9.8% in 2017.
Schultz’s report documents efforts to find the problem, including audits of the computer software used to track water and a check of water meters.
Schultz said when meters were checked, 120 were found to be reading zero water use. Of those, 40 needed to be changed; the other 80 were houses that were vacant, residents that were gone for the winter, or irrigation meters where water was not being used.
A leak was found where waterlines cross under Brush Creek.
There are two lines– one on either side of the South Defiance Street Brush Creek bridge.
In the waterline on the west side of the creek, a tap was found to be leaking, and appeared to have been leaking for some time.
Bolts in a valve had also rusted away.
Schultz’s report explains the water plant is not manned all the time.
When there is no one at the plant, especially over weekends, operators fill the village storage tanks, including a one-million gallon tank south of the ConAgra complex.
Over the weekend of Feb. 2-3, “my weekend operator knew there was something going on out in the system somewhere, just because of the way the tanks fill up… We could never really get everything filled up like normal,” Schultz said in a later interview.
Then, Archbold police officers noticed water running out the doors at the former Shopko building.
“Part of their fire line… had frozen and broke. Who knows when it broke. It was broken in multiple places,” Schultz said.
A water department work- er went to the building and shut off the fire main.
Because fire lines in the village are not metered and there are floor drains in the building, the fire main may have been leaking for some time.
“We would have never caught it,” he said.
If the fire mains in the building were leaking over the weekend of Feb. 2-3, the leak either got bigger to the point that the floor drains couldn’t keep up, or drains were either blocked or became clogged.
Schultz can’t say that a leak at the Shopko building was the whole problem.
“I know that one particular weekend, when (the fire line at the Shopko building) let loose, it was definitely an issue,” he said.
“Before that, I can’t know– not with any certainty.”
Since that time, Schultz said things “look more back to normal as far as our pumping goes.
“Our system is pretty tight right now, because our pumps are barely running at night. They’re more back to normal,” he said.
He told council that in terms of water unaccounted for, “January did not look too good. February looked good.”
Other Water Issues
Council also discussed other water-related issues.
Donna Dettling, village administrator, told council an effort to get the Fulton County Commissioners to do cost-sharing on a new elevated water tower have failed.
The current village-owned water tower, on the northwest corner of the intersection of Oak and West streets in the southeast quadrant of the village, will need to be replaced in the near future.
The estimated cost for a new tower, tentatively planned for the northwest corner of East Lutz Road and Co. Rd. 22, is about $1 million.
Dettling said she will look into grant opportunities.
Also, a plan to enlarge the small reservoir has been scrapped.
Dettling said the cost of enlarging the small reservoir was three to four times as much as building a new one. She said more raw water storage capacity won’t be needed for quite a few years.
Council approved measures that create reductions in water and wastewater treatment rates for the ConAgra processing plant. Brian Huffman, councilman and ConAgra employee, abstained on the vote on the new contract.
The next meeting is Monday, March 18, 7 pm, in council chambers.