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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Money down the drain

Monday, February 28, 2005

What is more annoying the sound of the faucet dripping at 2 a.m when you can't sleep or the thought of the money going down the drain with each drip? Let's consider the cost being more annoying for a moment.

If your faucet is dripping at a rate of 1/8 cup per minute, it becomes 7.5 cups in an hour, then 80 cups per day and finally 4,106 gallons per year. The waste of water doesn't only add to your water usage but to your sewer waste as well. Cherokee's current rates are 2 for every 7.5 gallons for water and 3 for every 7.5 gallons for sewer. When you figure the cost per gallon it becomes roughly 1 per gallon.

Perhaps that the $41.06 per year that is wasted from the dripping faucet doesn't annoy you yet. There are 2,350 water meters in Cherokee and if each structure they were connected to had a leaking faucet that $41.06 grows to nearly $4 million for local consumers and a water waste of 9.7 million gallons per year.

Other than the cost to consumers there is the added cost to tax payers for the operations of the water and sewer treatment plants. At the water treatment plant the cost to treat our water includes electricity to pump from wells to the plant and then from the plant to our homes. There are costs for chemicals to treat the water and of course, the equipment, its maintenance and the labor to operate the plant. At the sewer treatment plant costs are similar and on average the waste water treatment plant processes around 800,000 gallons of waste each day.

If there was 9.7 million less gallons of water to treat each year it wouldn't necessarily save the taxpayers money, however, the money the city saves could be used towards the much needed updating of infrastructure in Cherokee and perhaps reduce the need for rate increases.

There are a few common causes of dripping faucets in our area. One cause is the our hard water. The lime and minerals in hard water wear down and detoriate rubber and plastic parts found in faucets. Even a water softener isn't able to filter those hard deposits. Another cause is the type and quality of faucet you purchase for your home. This is a simple case of getting what you pay for. High quality faucets with a minimal amount of rubber and plastic parts are recommended for this area. A third, perhaps less common cause, is over turning or tighting your faucet when shutting off your water. This adds extra pressure and wear on the rubber washers and other parts making your leak worse in the long run.

A rough average for a plumber to repair a dripping faucet can run between $40-$50, including the service call and parts and possibly more depending on the cause of the leak. For the do-it-yourself handy person the cost of replacing the rubber washer or o-ring is minimal costing less than $2. The conservation of 9.7 million gallons of water, priceless.

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