Lost water' costing area community thousands

Small leaks, faulty meters result in ‘lost water'

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio has been able to secure water well into the future, but for some area cities, that is not the case. Water is at a premium and even a small leak can be costly.

"It's costing us a considerable amount of money," said Natalia Mayor Ruby Vera.

In the case of Natalia, it translates to thousands of dollars.

"It's not that we're not accounting for the water, we just don't know where [it's going]," said Vera. "We know we've lost it, because of the reports we have."

Somewhere between the pump and the faucet, the water has become unaccounted for; whether it is because of small leaks, bad meters, or mistakes in billing.

"If you sell less than you pump, than someplace in there, there's lost water," said Calvin Finch, Director of the Urban Water Program for Texas A&M's Institute of Renewable Natural Resources.

Finch, along with the Edwards Aquifer Authority and the Texas Water Development Board has stepped in to the help small communities like Natalia find and fix some of those issues.

"The goal for our program and the Edwards Aquifer Authority, who sponsors our program, is to reduce the amount of water pumped from the aquifer," said Finch.

No matter the motive, water for small towns in South Texas, is extremely important. As for Natalia, 14 percent of what the city has pumped has disappeared since Jan. 1. That adds up to 12-acre-feet; a large amount in terms of civic use.

"It's very much a big deal," said Vera. "Not only financially, but what we can provide to the community."

Between restrictions and lost water, Natalia has seen cutbacks totaling 83-acre-feet. While a program to fix lost water is expected to help the city, Vera had concerns about how much it will eventually cost.  She also voiced concerns about how much of the water will actually be returned to the city.

Meanwhile, the Edwards Aquifer Regional Water Conservation Program is sponsoring a Lost Water Conference on Oct. 30 in San Antonio for staff of municipal utilities and other water suppliers in the Edwards Aquifer region. The conference will be 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Edwards Aquifer Authority offices, 900 E. Quincy Street in San Antonio. It is free to attendees.


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