Lost water, lost revenues

Water losses as a result of a recent main break in south Jackson are small potatoes compared to the revenues the city loses each year as a result of leaky pipes.

In the last three months, Jackson lost nearly 90 million gallons of a water as a result of the Forest Avenue main break, according to city official’s estimates.

That water, had it reached customers, would have generated around $386,000 in revenue.

That amount does not take into account the cost for treating the water.

Last year, the Sun reported the city loses 40 percent of the water produced at its two treatment plants, as a result of breaks and leaks in the system.

To compensate, Jackson has to produce additional water, raising the overall treatment costs.

For fiscal year 2017, the city budgeted around $10.8 million on salaries, supplies and other expenses at the J.H. Fewell and O.B. Curtis water treatment plants. Based on a 40 percent water loss, about $4.3 million of the budgeted amount will go to treat water that never makes its way to customers.

The millions lost are funds that could be used to help upgrade Jackson’s infrastructure. All funds generated by the city’s water and sewer department go into an enterprise fund, which can solely be used for Jackson’s water and sewer needs.

A 2013 report conducted by Neel-Schaffer Engineering showed that Jackson needs to spend $405 million to bring its system up to par. Age, as well as exposure to the elements and a lack of maintenance over the decades, were cited as reasons for the system’s decline.

Jackson has approximately 1,100 miles of water pipelines. Of that, larger transmission lines account for 220 miles, and smaller mains total around 800 miles. Twenty percent of the city’s lines are 100 years or older; 30 percent are 60 years or older; and 30 percent are 40 years or older.

Combined, Fewell and Curtis produce around 13.9 billion gallons of water a year. Jackson charges $3.21 per hundred cubic feet of water used, or roughly 748 gallons. 

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