Northeast Itawamba Water Association actively looking for leaks

By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times

There’s a small pond on Floyd Collum Road in the Banner Community that’s filled with water paid for by the customers of the Northeast Itawamba Water system.

According to the regional water system’s board of directors, the pond exemplifies the sheer amount of water being wasted because of leakage.

“Some of these leaks might not be easy to find; you have to hunt these leaks,” said board member Reed Adams, adding that the “pond leak” was off the beaten path where most people wouldn’t have spotted it.

“There’s no telling how long that line’s been leaking,” he said.

That particular leak has since been fixed, but according to the board it’s in no way unique. During a special meeting of the board in late September, board member Reed Adams passed around pictures of two leaks that were pumping thousands of gallons — and thousands of dollars — worth of water each month. That’s water wasted, but funded out of the pockets of Northeast Itawamba Water Association customers.

“When you buy two gallons of milk just to drink one, it gets pretty expensive,” board president Ralph Burkes said of the leaks.

In order to help resolve the issue, the board is asking the water system’s customers to help hunt and report leaks.

“If you’d just walk a line by your house, that would be a tremendous help,” Adams said. “If you have a leak on the line, you’ll have a heavy flow of water.”

Those who do should ensure it’s not just sudden usage (say, someone in the house flushes a toilet) by listening for the sound to continue for several minutes straight. If it does, there may be a leak in the line. Report it, Adams said.

Although not the single cause of the water pressure and clarity problems plaguing the regional water system, the board seems to wholeheartedly believe that water leakage is making a significant contribution to its troubles. Last year, the board spent more than $160,000 purchasing water from Red Bay, Ala., to help compensate for low water pressure in the Salem area. Now, the board is questioning just how much of that water was just free flowing from leaky lines.

“If we can get these leaks contained … the cost of our water will definitely go down,” Adams said. “If we can keep the water in the pipes until it reaches the customer, then we’ll have better water rates.

“We’re going to fix leaks as soon as we can find them,” he added.

Earlier this month, the board voted to hire Cook Coggins Engineering to conduct a feasibility study of connecting the regional water system to the city of Fulton’s water system to provide water for customers in the Salem area. Connecting to a surface water system should, in theory, resolve many of the low pressure/dirty water problems that have been plaguing parts of the water system for years.

The previous board of directors, which left office last year, had considered hooking onto Fulton’s water system, but claimed the project would be too costly. The board has since moved forward with plans to connect to the water system in Franklin County, Ala.

During that same meeting, the water association’s operator, Tim Henderson, officially resigned from his position. The board has yet to fill that open position. Maintenance is currently being aided by water association customers Terry Johnson and Donnie Garrison, both of whom previously worked for the water association.

To report a leak, contact the Northeast Itawamba Water Association by calling 585-3480.

adam.armour@journalinc.com