City staff find 2 leaks losing nearly half a million litres of drinking water per day

Hamilton has discovered two leaks that were each pouring nearly half a million litres of drinking water into the city's stormwater system every day.

Hamilton water discovered 140 leaks after scouring 400 kilometres of watermain

Hamilton water staff have discovered 140 leaks in the city's system, including the one on the right, which was found on Stone Church Road and was losing an estimated 463,000 litres per day in drinking water. (Supplied by the City of Hamilton)

Hamilton has discovered two leaks that were each pouring nearly half a million litres of drinking water into the city's stormwater system every day.

The spills were among 140 leaks identified by city staff who scoured 400 kilometres of watermain using new technology that bounces an acoustic signal between hydrants to pinpoint places where water is escaping.

Andrew Grice, director of Hamilton water, described the leaks as "fairly substantial."

"If you start adding these up across the entire city it can make a big difference, not just on our pocketbook, but it has bigger impacts."

A leak at 617 Scenic Drive was gushing an estimated 397,000 litres per day, while a larger one at 564 Stone Church Road was losing 463,000 litres per day, Grice told Hamilton's general issues committee Monday.

While it's not clear how long the Stone Church leak was happening, Grice estimated it cost the city roughly $40 per day in treated water that never made its way to people's taps.

"It's screaming in there," he said of a picture shared with councillors that showed the leak flowing into the city's system.

During the meeting, Ward 9 Coun. Brad Clark asked how quickly the leaks are fixed.

Grice responded that they're repaired as quickly as possible. The Stone Church leak, for example, was found in the summer and has since been corrected.

The director told the committee that tracking down leaks is difficult, especially along the escarpment, because water can sometimes remain below the surface until a kilometre downstream where it falls over the edge.

Andrew Grice, director of Hamilton Water, says the city's new leak detection technology will have a big impact. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

The new technology is making a difference, said Grice in an interview after the meeting.

"As this water is leaking underground it can start to erode the bedding that is around the pipe and create further failures," he said. "It can also compromise some of our road base. So, it's very important that we do find these and make corrective actions as quickly as we can."

Cutting down on leaks helps free up capacity in the stormwater system during heavy rainfall, making it more likely it will be overwhelmed and wastewater will be released into area waterways," Grice said.

The director also said the city is hoping the new spill detection technology will have a big impact on the city's non-revenue water.

That's water that the city treats, but doesn't make its way through a water meter, typically because of leaks.

Non-revenue water currently represents about 28 per cent of what's produced by the city, which is about 13 per cent higher than the industry average, according to Grice.

"That's high. No system is perfect, but we're in a far-worse state than others."


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