East Bay water leaks not helping conservation

July 22, 2008 7:40:07 PM PDT
East Bay MUD customers are taking the utility to task for wasting water. At the same time, they're being ordered to conserve. Leaks are spilling thousands of gallons of what has become a precious resource these days.

The small sea of water on Moraga's Francesca Drive sits just yards from a brown lawn that sure could use some water.

"It's really annoying when you can't water your lawn and they're letting all tha water run around," says Pat Miller, President of the Local Homeowners' Association.

While residents must conserve, East Bay MUD has let this leaky pipe run, by the utility's own estimate, at a rate of 4,300 gallons per day. That's enough to supply about 15 households per day.

"They're using gallons of water 24 hours a day, because it just runs and there's no way they can stop it," says Miller.

Miller and others have complained about the leak for the past 11 days, but still no fix.

Xavier Irias is the director of engineering for East Bay MUD, which has 4,000 miles of pipes in the Bay Area, some more than 100 years old.

"We're getting to more leaks faster than ever before," says Irias.

But it took East Bay MUD nearly 11 years to plug a leak which had been spewing 36,000 gallons of precious water per day straight into a storm drain.

It finally stopped just three days ago, when East Bay MUD installed a system to recover the water. The repair came after ABC7 first exposed the leak in early June.

"Certainly, I think you raised everyone's awareness of it. We were able to come up with a system to recapture the water leaking out of the aqueduct and re-inject it into our water supply," says Irias.

"Saturday, when I came outside, it finally stopped after 11 years, and I'm proud of what they did," says Mike Ruhman, who lives in the apartments right next to the now dormant pipe.

As of today, East Bay MUD says they have 81 leaks on file in their system. Their goal is to fix each of them within seven days. They say the leak in Moraga took longer to fix because of an error in their system and now say it is at the top of their list to be fixed on Wednesday.


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