Leak suspected in increase in Manchester's water use No shortage reported as search is on for cause

July 22, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Manchester's water use has suddenly increased at an alarming rate -- more than 2 million gallons a month -- and concerned town officials suspect an underground leak.

Several months ago, Manchester lifted a ban on outdoor water use that was initiated during last summer's drought. Current restrictions, however, require town residents to refrain from filling swimming pools or watering lawns, Mayor Elmer C. Lippy said yesterday.

"We haven't been able to find the leak yet, and may have to bring in outside help with more sophisticated equipment if we don't soon find it," Lippy said.

The mayor said high-tech listening devices, which can detect the sound of running water, must be used at night when extraneous noises are at a minimum.

The town's Public Works Department has begun a systematic search for the leak, sector by sector, Lippy said. Allowing three or four nights for each quadrant, it could take about two weeks, he said.

Lippy said past water shortages have led him to keep close watch on monthly water use. Residents used about 8.1 million gallons in May and 7.9 million gallons in June, which is more than 2 million gallons above average.

The suspected leak has not caused a shortage, he said, chiefly because a new water supply recently acquired outside of town is producing 130 gallons per minute, "a real gusher" by water supply standards, he said.

Lippy said he would be reluctant to reinstate a permanent ban on outdoor use, but would not hesitate to do so if the leak is not found.

Rainfall -- 5.9 inches in May and 6.1 inches in June -- was more than ample.

Other areas of the county are not experiencing water shortages, but use during the recent hot spell has officials preaching conservation.

In Taneytown, city officials announced Monday that outdoor water use will be banned, effective tomorrow.

The city of 4,700 used an extra 200,000 gallons daily during the weekend, severely challenging municipal water pumps and prompting the ban, officials said.

G. Michael Evans, director of public works for the county, said he expected to issue a statement today encouraging South Carroll residents in the Freedom District to limit their outdoor water use voluntarily.

Pub Date: 7/22/98

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