Half of the water coming into Flint is lost to leaks, water theft

Published: Apr. 20, 2017 at 4:44 PM EDT
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(04/20/17) - A top water adviser to the City of Flint says more than half of the water in the system is lost.

John Young says the city is losing bout 50-60 percent of the water pumped from Detroit by way of the Great Lakes Water Authority.

The wasted water is a driving factor as to why water bills are so high compared to neighboring towns.

Young says there are three reasons why the water is lost. First, inaccurate readings from out-of-date water meters. Next, is water theft - people actually bypassing water meters with a homemade system so they're not billed.

He says the biggest loss is due to leaks in the pipes and water mains. It makes up about 20-30 percent of the city's wasted water.

"One of the challenges Flint has had is they've invested almost nothing into infrastructure over the last decade. We now have money coming in that we can use. So, what we will be doing is prioritizing the condition of the pipes in the ground and based on that prioritization, spend the money wisely so we get the most bang for our bucks," Young said.

This week, Mayor Karen Weaver recommended continuing to get water from GLWA. If that plan is adopted, it will free up even more federal money to invest in infrastructure.

Eventually, once the pipes are actually replaced, the city can buy less water. That will drive the cost down for customers.

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