Opinion

Fixing water leaks

Rock Hill city officials make a good case for postponing repairs on a sizable water leak near the intersection of Twin Lakes Road and Congaree Avenue on the north side of the city.

Nonetheless, it is a public-relations nightmare in the middle of a months-long statewide drought.

The city argues that fixing the leak would require shutting off the water to nearby India Hook Elementary School for at least 12 hours. So, crews will wait until Saturday to go to work on the problem.

But residents who have been fined by the city for watering their lawns in recent weeks must be wondering how city officials can justify letting 20,000 gallons of treated water run down the sewer each day until Saturday. Jimmy Bagley, director of Rock Hill Utilities, said 20,000 gallons are equal to the amount of water used daily by 10 average homes.

We understand the need to maintain the water supply to the school. If nothing else, students need water to flush toilets.

But we wonder whether city officials explored all possibilities with the school district. For example, today is a late start day for all Rock Hill schools to allow teachers two hours for staff development. If the city crews had started repairs at the end of the school day Tuesday, they would have had more than 20 hours to finish the job before children arrived for classes today.

We hope this large leak also will prompt the city to review the condition of aging water and sewer pipes, especially those in the city's older neighborhoods. While no one can miss a 20,000-gallon-a-day leak, many of the older water pipes no doubt are leaking smaller amounts each day.

The city now patches significant leaks when they arise, but that is a piecemeal approach. The city needs to consider scheduling the replacement of obsolete water and sewer pipes on a regular basis

Watching thousands of gallons of water run down the drain is annoying, especially during a drought. But the total loss of water from leaks we don't see may be even more wasteful.

IN SUMMARY

Large leak should prompt city to take a look at water pipes in older neighborhoods.

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