FactFinder 12 first told you about the leak on S. St Clair last week.
The city said it had higher priority water problems and left the water to pour out of a fire hydrant in the culdesac for days.
The water pooled up in the street, forming what neighbor Martha Petersen nicknamed "Lake St. Clair".
"I'm just glad it's over with," Petersen said Monday.
She said city workers stopped the leak Friday afternoon and the street dried up over the hot, dry weekend. Yellow caution tape still surrounds a large hole dug around the hydrant.
"I can't believe how much water was wasted," Peterson said.
Water poured from the base of the hydrant round the clock for about two weeks, she estimated.
"I can't imagine there were bigger problems (for city crews) than that."
We asked Assistant Director of Wichita Public Works & Utilities Joe Pajor about the leak on St. Clair street and this is his response to each of our questions below:
Is there a way to estimate the amount of water lost on St.Clair in gallons?
Yes, but we do not make such estimates for individual leaks. We do track the total "lost and unaccounted" water and that is a key performance measure that we benchmark ourselves against other similar size utilities and, of course, we seek to minimize this amount through system renewal, maintenance and response to leaks when they occur.
What exactly were the higher priority problems around the city?
All leaks are triaged into one of three categories. The highest priority are called "fix today". These leaks involve one or more customers out of water service or with noticeably low water pressure. They would also include leaks that are creating traffic issues or damage to property (either already occurred, ongoing, or potential). This category will be addressed on a twenty-four hour per day seven day a week basis by reassigning crews already working other lower category leaks, calling in standby crews, emergency overtime, and mobilizing private contractors as necessary to get customers service restored.
The lowest category of leaks are called seepers. Seepers are typically leaks that are small enough that there will be only limited evidence that they are present with only a minimum amount (if any) water flowing overland.
The middle category covers all leaks that are between seepers and "fix today". Here typically water is easy to see flowing overland usually to the stormwater drainage system.
Leaks are addressed based in these three categories and with an eye toward minimizing the potential of a leak to get worse over time, conserving water, and maximizing crew productivity.
Could you give specific locations and information about gallons lost or damage caused?
Tuesday, we can tell you the work order history for the mainline crews for the time period from when this particular leak was reported until it was addressed. I do not have holiday access to this information. I hope the response above gives you a general idea of our approach to leaks.
It seemed strange the city couldn't spare a couple of workers at any point in the past two weeks to address the problem on St. Clair.
A utility must balance its capacity to respond to work load demands during peak times with its obligation to be good stewards of its ratepayers payments through the rates it charges. Water leaks will tend to be much higher in the temperature extremes of summer and winter. The first and best line of defense against leaks is to make the appropriate investment in the water distribution system to keep it from leaking in the first place. The second line of defense is to analyze leaks that do occur for indications of which existing water mains are the best candidates for replacement in our main replacement program. The third line of response is to have an adequate number of skilled, experienced, and dedicated utility employees with the equipment to effectively respond when leaks do occur.
It is very understandable that a given customer looking at a particular leak might judge the City's response as slow, but once you consider the bigger picture, it should become clearer that we work to strike a fair balance between response time and cost of service. We fully understand that both "response time" and "cost of service "are important to our customers as are they are to us.