down to two
Bellevue busy with water issues
By MATT FURBER
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
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
"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
"It will save a lot of foot work,"
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.