A Tale of Two Cities’ Leaks

A Tale of Two Cities’ Leaks

Niles Village, Illinois

The Leaning Tower of Niles By Miroslaw Mucha (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

The Leaning Tower of Niles. By Miroslaw Mucha (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons.

Wikipedia describes Niles as a small town of around 30,000 people, Niles was settled in 1827. The town is near Chicago and is known for its small scale version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa which was featured in Wayne’s World. The town is now making headlines for something far less amusing: its plague of water leaks.

Niles has had, “321 water main breaks in the past two years, at a cost of more than $600,000,” according to the Sun-Times Media. The latest battle in Niles consists of a leak that has been troubling Oakton Street for eight weeks. This leak has already cost the city $36,000 and involved press conferences with the Mayor. This leaky water main is scheduled to be replaced in 2015, but city residents worry that issues occurring before then will deplete this fund.

Each time a new section of road has to be dug up to try and locate the leak, it costs $6,000. The city has employed Trustee Joe LoVerde to use his vast experience with over 30 years with the village water and sewer and 18 years with the park district to help the Public Utilities crews. Two private leak specialist had failed to find this leak. Crews feared a sinkhole might form if the water kept running.

LoVerde’s experience paid off when he finally located the leak a week later. The source was an abandon gas service with water coming out of it. Using both logic and some good old guesswork, the leak was located to the south of the water that had been welling up in the road.

West Jefferson, North Carolina

Ashe County Courthouse of Jefferson, NC, By Jblevins47 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Ashe County Courthouse of Jefferson, NC. By Jblevins47 (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

West Jefferson is a tiny town, with a very big water problem. Located near the Appalachian Mountains with a population of 1,299 the town original got its start from the railroad. The location brings in many tourists each year, and another claim to fame is that it is home to the only cheese factory in the southeastern United States.

For two months the town has been searching for a water leak causing a loss of 100,000 gallons of water a day. The town has teamed up with the North Carolina Rural Water Association (NCRWA) which is a non-profit organization that provides technical assistance to small towns with waste and drinking water issues. This assistance is provided at no cost. The crews have spent between 500 and 600 hours searching over the last two months.

The workers are using acoustic leak detection equipment, which amplifies when it finds a leak. They have replaced a significant leak in a storm drain catch basin, and fixed nine leaks so far. While the water keeps flowing they work to inspect every fire hydrant in town and are found, “crawling in creeks, climbing hills and down in ditches, picking up manhole lids,” according to Keith Buff with the NCRWA. Hoping that this problem will be found soon, Town Manager Brantley Price has already spent $15,8000 to repair a sewer blocked sewer line found during this search.