Saturday, September 3, 2011

Where Does the Extra Water Go?

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Recently Strib reporter Steve Brandt wrote about how the city has a significant gap between water used and water billed.  Minneapolis was losing four percent of the water pumped into the system, but when that figure was analyzed, we found that the real number was almost quadruple - 15.75%.  In other words, that's the percent of water lost in the system.  A healthy percentage is no higher than 10%.

Some water loss, as the article states, is inevitable - either due to the age of the system and small leaks as a result, or from necessary activities such as firemen accessing a hydrant.  But our current numbers are markedly higher than where they should be.

Two locations on 26th Ave N have had water gushing from them for weeks and even months on end.  They are located at...

...the corner of 26th and Fremont and at the castle townhomes on 26th and 3rd.

The water starts from a private residence about three houses in from the corner.

and flows to the alley.

Today the water doesn't even make it to the drain.

The water has been flowing from this property quite literally all summer long.  I called it in to 311 and was told this wasn't an issue because it was happening on private property.  That didn't sound right, so I reported it directly to CM Samuels' office.  It was at least recorded as an ongoing issue, but I haven't seen any resolution yet.  The house where this is coming from does not appear to be vacant, although I haven't found anyone at home either.  The water has been flowing since at least June at a constant, 24/7 stream.  When it gets to the drain, it's not helping stormwater runoff issues, and when it stops beforehand it's certainly not helping the tectonic plates along 26th Ave N.

What will happen if this is not resolved by the winter?

Over at the castle townhomes, we have this:

At least here there is an indication that work will be done sometime...

But there has been a constant stream coming from this spot for at least three weeks.

This isn't the first time that it's taken the city an inordinately long time to respond to such water issues in NoMi.  Residents of Hawthorne encountered similar issues a year and a half ago, just a block away from the castle townhomes.  In that instance, the water was coming from land that was recently acquired or would be acquired by the city itself.  So the rest of us just footed the bill.  I kind of think the townhome owners, Sherman and Associates, are going to be good for the money at their property, but what about the owner off of Fremont and 26th?  Common sense would indicate that at some point that water bill is going to catch up with him or her.  And if it can't be paid at that point, we'll pick up the tab again.

Is fixing these leaks with a turnaround time of several weeks or months really the best way to keep taxpayer money from flowing down the drain?


  1. If the leak occurs in the Street, it is not metered. Therefore, Sherman and Associates will not be footing the bill. Nor should they. This is the city's responsibility and the city's waste.

  2. Jeff, the weird ally stream has been going on since at least March, from what I can remember. John and I were obsessed with figuring this out, spending several hours at various times calling 3-1-1, demanding they send someone out to further investigate it etc.

    We did determine it comes out of a white pvc pipe from the house which if I remember correctly is the 3rd one in from the ally, facing Fremont. There is a white pvc pipe that comes out from under the fence.

    We were able to determine the white pvc pipe goes to the house and looks like something that a sump pump drain pipe would look like.

    So we were spending time on the phone with 3-1-1 telling them there must be a leak in the basement of that house if the sump pump was spitting out water that often (we timed it at one point, it would spit out water every 3 or 4 minutes) The thing is, that since the spring and more dry weather has arrived over the summer, I see a stream of water coming out of the alley and down 26th street even when there hasn't been rain for days. ????

    They refused to do anything about it, refused to notify anyone, or check into it or zilch!

    We were trying to determine if they had some how tapped into the water supply before the meter, or what.

    Mystery unsolved. :-(

  3. I stand corrected, it was a black corrugated drain pipe coming out to the alley, but for some reason I still think there was white pvc pipe somewhere, like on the other side of the fence going from the house out to the alley.

    (I sent you a picture)

  4. That's correct, we called 311 and DEMANDED they do something about it. I said, "This is fresh, cold water. It is NOT being pumped by a sump pump, this is city water that's not being metered."

    I couldn't get the operator to do anything including issue a reference number. Like, oh, the 311 operator who isn't even standing there somehow just knows it must be a sump pump and I have my HANDS in it, for crying out loud, and I can tell it's a flow of unmetered fresh water, but I can't get her to issue a reference number.

    Go back, city officials. Check the call. And the unmetered water has been running into the gutter this whole time. Your tax dollars at work.

    (Commenting from Afghanistan)

  5. Why does the color of the pipe matter? Why are you pointing out that a pipe is "black". Can't it just be a pipe?


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