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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of October 29 - November 4, 2003


Utility crew
down to two

Bellevue busy with water issues

Express Staff Writer

Excess water consumption may be part of the city of Bellevueís water issues, said Seattle-based water leak field technician Tony Baker, Monday on the streets of Bellevue. But, using acoustic surveying equipment to listen for leaks, Bakerís investigation is the cityís latest effort to find where the rest of the cityís water is going. He can pinpoint where water is coming from by recording sound frequencies of water escaping city pipes.

Bellevue utility crew members Rick Turner and Duane Jernberg are managing all of the city utility and street services as the city searches for new employees for public works and sewer services. Express photo by Matt Furber

Engineers have estimated that the city could be loosing as much as 250,000 gallons of water a day to leaks somewhere between the spring source and the water treatment plant.

"We find unaccounted for water," Baker said of his national company Utility Services Associates. "At 60 psi (pounds per square inch of water pressure) you can lose one gallon per minute out of that pen tip. Thatís 1,440 gallons per day."

The results of the leak detection should help enable the city to patch some holes, said utility superintendent Rick Turner. Baker will check all noises he hears to twice to confirm if there is leak of if someone is just taking a shower. If the noises have the same quality upon each check it could correlate to a leaky water main, fire hydrant or even a service line to a home.

"I canít guarantee I will find all the leaks," Baker said, although he can sometimes hear what show people are watching on television.

Back at City Hall, Monday the other member of the Bellevue city crew, Duane Jernberg got the final orders to shut off a list of customers who had not paid their water bill in a long time.

"I can usually get them to take a check down to City Hall if they know I am there to shut of their service," he said.

Seattle-based water leak field technician Tony Baker and Bellevue utility superintendent Rick Turner listen for leaks along a city water main. Express photo by Matt Furber

On an administrative level, city administrator Jack Stoneback this week sent letters to Glennís Grocery and Atkinsonsí Valley Market because the two businesses have not been charged the proper rate for water and sewer utilities. City ordinances determine they should be charged more based on their size and use. The task of making sure everyone in the city is paying their fair share for the water they consume is part of Stonebackís responsibility, but he has also been busy overseeing the arrival of computerized water and sewer monitoring system, which is currently being installed.

"The monitoring signals are coming in," Turner said. "Next week the computer will be set up to monitor to readings."

The system will allow the city to collect more data on what is happening from the city water sources to the sewer. The data will help the city when it begins to look at ways to improve the system in the future.

"It will save a lot of foot work," Jernberg said.

Once Bigwood Landscaping purges irrigation systems they manage under a contract with the city, the water system will be tied up for the winter and Turner and Jernberg can get back to other items on their to do list that grows longer everyday, Turner said.

"We have to get the plows ready," he said. "They take about a day apiece to set up."

To relieve the tax on the two employees the city is also in the midst of a search for a public works administrator and wastewater operator. The city is looking for people who are familiar with a SCADA system and urban water quality requirements.



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