Less water lost as Flossmoor projects show positive results

  Part of Flossmoor's water pumping system. (Chronicle 
  file photo)
Flossmoor has made significant progress in its continuing battle against water loss resulting from leaky infrastructure and inefficient metering.
According to village officials, the level of water bought by Flossmoor that is actually delivered to homes and — the so-called billed-to-purchase ratio — climbed to 77 percent last year, up from the previous figure of 59 percent.
Public Works Director John Brunke said Wednesday that the new ratio is based on pumping and billing numbers during the 2018 fiscal year, which ended April 30.
The delivery improvement means that Flossmoor is pumping less water than in previous years. Brunke said the village typically pumps about a million gallons of water each day at this time of year. Recently, Flossmoor has been pumping about 780,000 gallons a day.
Less water means lower costs for the village. The new pumping figures are expected to result in a reduction of $364,072 in water purchase expenses, as compared to the 2017 fiscal year.
The village’s water and sewer system is a major municipal expense and Flossmoor has been plagued in recent years by leaky infrastructure and inaccurate water meters. The result is a troublesome billed-to-purchase ratio — since 2010 the village has annually lost more than 30 percent of the water it purchases. For the 2017 fiscal year, the 59 percent ratio meant that more than 40 percent of water purchased from Chicago and Harvey was lost.
Flossmoor has taken multiple steps to improve the flow of water throughout the village. Six miles of the leakiest water mains were replaced as part of a $7.8 million project that ended last year. The village plans to replace existing analog water meters with digital units that give a more accurate reading.
Last year, the village discovered that the Vollmer Road reservoir, a 3 million gallon concrete structure, was leaking about 25,000 gallons of water a day. The leaks were fixed last year in a repair project that cost $208,947.
At the close of the 2018 fiscal year, Flossmoor’s water and sewer fund had enough of a balance to cover 50 percent of the reservoir repairs, Village Manager Bridget Wachtel said.  
Pumping levels decreased significantly following the completion of the final water main phase and the repairs at the reservoir, village officials said.
Brunke said the village will continue to take steps so that even less water is lost. He said the new water meters, when installed, are expected to improve that tallying of residential water use by 3 to 5 percent.
Even with the improved ratio, Flossmoor is still losing more than 20 percent of the water that it purchases.
“Yes, 23 percent is being lost or not-accounted for (through bad metering),” Brunke said. “Keep in mind that no water system is 100 percent efficient.”
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources non-revenue water loss goal for communities is currently 12 percent and will be reduced to 10 percent in 2019, he said.
”We are striving to do better than these limits,” Brunke said.

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