Water Wasted As City Leak Goes Unrepaired

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On the 500 block of West Broad Street, drivers splash through a puddle that won't go away. Yards away, a water valve issues a steady stream of water.

The line has been broken since March, and the Columbus Department of Public Utilities has known about it since March 28.

Mike Burroughs has watched it from his office in a nearby business furniture store.

"(It's been leaking) 24 hours a day," Burroughs said. "Seven days a week."

Burroughs said that he complained to the Division of Water weeks ago.

"About three weeks ago, they said they would be out here the next week to fix it because they had to wait for the other side of the street to be finished," Burroughs said.  "And I went on vacation expecting it to be fixed, and the waters still flowing away."

A Public Utilities spokeswoman said a private construction project is blocking part of Broad Street, making it too hard to fix the leak.

While they admit it would be difficult, it would not be impossible.

“It was just a decision made by our maintenance crews, and the lead contractor, and the construction crews that were involved," said Laura Young Mohr, spokeswoman for the Public Utilities Department.  "We will fix it as soon as we can get in to fix it."

So who pays? Young-Mohr said the city will eat the lost water as a "cost of doing business."     

It's not the first time the city has had problems.

In September, Watchdog 10 revealed a leak left unrepaired for months; and a 2005 study that showed Columbus wastes hundreds of thousands in water each year.                               

In this case, the contractor estimates it will be another couple of weeks before anybody can fix the problem.

"How efficient is this, you think?" Watchdog 10 reporter Paul Aker asked.

"It's not an ideal situation," Young Mohr said. "But I can't really comment on the efficiency."

Burroughs said he's surprised nobody's taken action.

"It just seems like a lot of water going down the drain," Burroughs said.

Young Mohr said by email, the Division of Water is working on a new study. She expects that report to show the amount of wasted water has improved since the 2005 study.

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