Yorktown's in-House Leak-Detection Program Deemed a Success

Water superintendent Kenneth Rundle, at his swearing in ceremony in September, says a few words to the town with several members of the water department behind him. Credits: File Photo

YORKTOWN, N.Y. - A leak-detection program for the town’s water system has been declared a success and so far, officials say, it has saved the town more than $13,000.

Water Superintendent Ken Rundle updated the town board last month with the results of the in-house program he proposed in September.

Last fall, he asked the town to invest in new leak-detection equipment that he said would increase the accuracy of locating a leak in any of Yorktown’s 170 miles of water pipes. He proposed that the town stop outsourcing the task of leak detection and conduct the work in-house, which he said could save about $14,000. The board granted both requests.

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The actual results fell about $700 shy of Rundle’s original estimates; however, he and the board deemed the mission a success based on the findings. Historically, a leak-detection company would be hired for $20,850 for the job, so the town saved considerable money doing it this way.

“We just did the same exact work, if not more comprehensive, for $7,500 with our in-house staff,” Rundle said. “We saved about $13,350. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot of money to save but we’ve saved that $13,000 in approximately 10 nights.”

Rundle projects that in five years it will save almost $67,000 by continuing to conduct the work in-house. He added that with the water department overseeing the leak detection, its familiarity with the town’s pipes ensures greater oversight.

“We found 14 leaks that were not surfacing that had potential to be a disaster for somebody,” Rundle said.

Two of those leaks were on private property, but the water department has repaired the other 12.

“Whether it makes it to the meter or not, that’s water that the town is purchasing and it’s just unaccounted water and it’s a waste of resources,” Rundle said. “So, what I’m trying to do is to bring our unaccounted water percentage down a little bit.”

Typically, Rundle said, municipalities in lower New York experience a water loss rate between 20 and 30 percent. Yorktown averages about 25 percent, which he would like lower.

Rundle has also placed an emphasis on fire safety. The water department checked 945 of the town’s 1,700 fire hydrants for operation over the last three months. In the fall, it flushed 500. During these projects, Rundle said, 43 were discovered to need repair.

He also took a moment to thank the water district’s staff and said they are very dedicated and hard-working. One example he gave was when one week the staff repaired two water main breaks and then jumped right into plowing the roads on Saturday, Dec. 17, after it snowed.

Supervisor Michael Grace said that while the topic of leak detection isn’t exhilarating, it’s important for department heads to give presentations such as this to inform taxpayers as to how their money is used.

“All this stuff is very, very important and it costs tax dollars,” he said to the audience during the board meeting. “And it’s your tax dollars and you should know where it’s going and you should be kept informed.”

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