Finding the source of lost treated water could mean financial savings for the city of Brazil.
In a divided vote, the Brazil City Council approved the first reading of Ordinance 3-2005, which provides for an additional appropriation from the Economic Development Fund. Tabled since the end of January, the ordinance would involve a master water study to map the city's water lines, conduct a leak study and recalibrate meters.
While no Council members are against saving Brazil money, they expressed interest in learning more project details before approving the ordinance. City Engineer Brian Pohlar was on hand Tuesday evening to further explain the benefits of the plan.
With water loss ratios of 30-40 percent, the city is losing a considerable amount of money, he explained. The disparity between pumped water versus billed water should be closer to 10 percent.
The plan is divided into several parts. Water modelling will be necessary because of a lack of good maps of the town lines, he said. Unless the water system is working well in the city, it will be difficult to properly supply water to the Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district at I-70 and S.R. 59.
Meanwhile, a leak audit is critical for pinpointing leaks and determining where repairs will be necessary. Over time the master meters lose calibration and accuracy.
The low cost of treated water being sold to other towns like Harmony, Knightsville and Carbon must also be considered at a total of 13 million gallons per year. The rate for treated water is $61.2 cents per 100 cubic feet, approximately 748 gallons, Pohlar said, stressing he is using unofficial figures. Several other towns he cited sell treated water at more than twice that. That fee, which is actually less than what Brazil pays in treating and shipping costs at 68 cents, has not changed in 12 years.
"So basically, every time you ship water to these places, you're losing money," he said.
However, other cities selling treated water have been challenged in court, another reason Brazil must acquire official figures and statistics through a water study. If the city increased its rate from 61 cents to 92 cents per 100 cubic feet, still well under the rates of some other towns, the city would have $39,000 in new revenue.
Mayor Tom Arthur noted that while he has been able to review the information for six months, Council members, who expressed concern at the prospect of not being fully informed before making a decision, have been studying the information for a mere three weeks. Pohlar will be available to answer questions at a public work session set for 6 p.m. prior to the next regular session on Tuesday, March 22. Interviews with companies for cemetery lawn mowing will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the regular meeting set to begin at 7 p.m.
The Brazil City Council regularly meets the second and fourth Tuesday of the month in Council Chambers at Brazil City Hall. Meetings are open to the public.