851 million gallons of water, as the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier writes, is enough to fill, “1,300 Olympic-sized swimming pools in a year.” One would think that if 1,300 Olympic-sized swimming pools’ worth of water went missing, it would be fairly easy to figure out why. Instead, Waterloo, Iowa officials like Water Works General Manager Dennis Clark, “just don’t know where it went.”
The Courier notes that the missing gallons, which make up 18.5 percent of all water pumped in Waterloo in 2013, have contributed to the, “highest level of lost water in the six years recorded in the report.” So how did this happen? Unmetered water seems to be the best reason. Unmetered water includes flushing of hydrants, fire protection, street sweeping, hydrant inspections, sewer flushing, bad plumbing, and theft. Also, after one of the harshest winters in recent memory, the water loss could also be attributed to hydrants that were allowed to flow to prevent mains from freezing. That water is also unmetered.
Mr. Clark says that Waterloo Water Works is working on reducing the amount of water loss going forward. He told the Associated Press, “We have been taking steps to reduce this number, including changing some of our metering policies, trying to get construction meters set more quickly, encouraging repairs to service lines as quickly as possible, and the purchase of a leak correlator to help locate water leaks in the distribution system.”