County on the hunt for leaks

Published 10:10 pm Monday, August 25, 2014


Dallas County is losing money one drip at a time. Well, they’re losing money one drip and one running toilet at a time.

The Dallas County Commission discussed the significant increase in water costs they’ve experienced since new digital meters were installed at the county-owned Jim Minor Garden Homes.

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“Right now, I would guess we are wasting as much as $4 to $5,000 per month,” Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard said. “Our normal water bill for that complex would be in the $2,000 to $2,000 range. Right now, we’re seeing bills far higher.”

The complex, which has 17 buildings with four apartments in each building, is connected to just one water meter, which has prevented the county from both tracking where wasted water might be located and from collecting from tenants the cost of water.

“We have had our crews going through the apartments, looking for leaks, checking for running toilets,” Ballard said. “We’re hoping we can find the leaks and fix them in house, but I’m not sure at this point.”

Ballard said the problem became very obvious in June 2013 after Dallas County Water and Sewer installed a new, digital meter at the complex. Beginning with June’s invoice to the county, bills have averaged $5,775.32 per month with one bill reaching $7,510.84 in December. In contrast, the months leading up to the meter switch saw the county receive bills that averaged just $2,715.35.

“The water company has been great to work with throughout this process,” Ballard said. “They have helped us try to find where the problem might be. At this point, we know that we have leaks in 10 of our 17 buildings so far. We’re not done yet.”

Ballard is hoping the leaks that might be causing the higher water bills can be solved quickly and inexpensively.

“I am just hoping there are not any leaks beneath the slap,” he said. “I am not sure yet what the repair costs will be, but I know that they will be less expensive than continuing to pay these high bills.”

The tenants at Jim Minor Garden Homes do not pay anything toward the complex’s water bill, but Ballard is hoping they can help in curbing the expense.

“We are going to be sending them a memo shortly that asks them to watch how much water they are using, help us in identifying any problems,” Ballard said. “I am also discussing putting meters on each building, so that we can identify where problems might occur in the future.”