Fixing leaks could help the North Tahoe Public Utility District save $65 per day | SierraSun.com

Fixing leaks could help the North Tahoe Public Utility District save $65 per day

Jenny Goldsmith
Sierra Sun

To reduce energy costs, normalize rates for customers and improve the overall water system, the North Tahoe Public Utility District is starting to reap the benefits from implementing an aggressive water leak detection program.

“The program started in May, and we’ve already seen as much as 66 percent water leak reduction in some areas,” said Curtis Aaron, district general manager.

During the last four years, the district has been monitoring leak detection through outside consultants, but the hiring, implementation and monitoring delayed progress, said Lee Schegg, public works director.

To speed up the program, the district’s board bought a $25,000 leak detection correlator system from general water department funds, which was installed in May, Schegg said.

The state-of-the-art system works by measuring the sound velocities in the pipe system and identifying the variation in sound through frequency changes, Schegg said.

Through water meter readings, the district can then calculate the difference between the amount of water being pumped from Lake Tahoe and the actual amount being distributed, Schegg said.

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“We can save $60 to $65 a day in energy savings by curing leaks,” Schegg said. “The benefit to ratepayers is both in avoided rate increases and for deferred operating capital.”

In other words, by repairing the faulty pipelines and thereby reducing the amount of unaccounted for water, the district saves on electricity costs and also optimizes the lifespan of equipment, Schegg said.

The district has also shifted staff by altering a maintenance position to focus on the leak detection system, Schegg said. “It you’re producing water that doesn’t go toward beneficial use, it’s a waste of energy and money,” Schegg said.