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Laurel Park making gains against water loss

LAUREL PARK — Laurel Park officials plan to redouble efforts to detect leaks and replace bad pipes and valves and old meters in the aftermath of a water loss rate of just under 30 percent last year.

“I would like to see a more aggressive approach to leak detection because this is a substantial that’s going down the drain,” Councilman George Banta said during a wide-ranging discussion about the underground pipes, valves that should regularly tested and meters that need to be replaced. “Our objective is to enhance the loss prevention.”
Under the council’s direction, Public Works Director Andrew Griffin and Town Manager Alison Melnikova have already put in place several of the recommendations Banta made for detecting and fixing leaks. The town lost 14.6 million gallons of water it bought from the city of Hendersonville in the budget year ending last June 30 — or 29.6 percent of the total. Since then, the town has found and repaired several leaks, including a major gusher on Mulberry Court in Timber Creek. That subdivision has a lot of “dumb things” in the way the developer laid the underground water pipes, town officials said.
“Timber Creek is the area to target for line replacement because like you said, there are dumb things in the subdivision,” Melnikova said.
The water loss was down to 23.4 percent from July 1 through Dec. 31, and half that period was when the town was losing thousands of gallons through the Timber Creek leak. In that six-month period, Laurel Park bought 1,997,000 fewer gallons than the same period in 2014 and billed for 1,226,000 more. Based on the hourly loss from Jan. 18 to Feb. 9, the town is on track to meet its projection of an 18 percent loss for the second half of the fiscal year — from Jan. 1 to June 30.
During the work session last week the town council generally agreed with Banta’s recommendations to accurately track water loss, budget adequate money for leak-detection measures, schedule six night-time leak detection events this spring and summer, institute a meter replacement program to replace a certain percentage per year, start a valve-turning program to check and maintain all valves and consider an outside contractor to provide leak-detection services the town can’t do.

Town receives $12,000 planning grant

Council members also got word that Laurel Park has received a $12,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to help pay for a rewrite of its comprehensive plan.
The ARC grant will pay for an economic analysis as part of the town’s U.S. 64 Small Area plan. Gov. Pat McCrory notified the town on Feb. 2 that it had received the grant as part of North Carolina Appalachian Investment Program.