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Gainesville promotes EPA's WaterSense labeling
Water leaks hurt environment, bottom line
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Lowe’s appliance specialist Carl Satterlee checks a row of washer and dryer combos Thursday at the Skelton Road store in Gainesville.

For more information
Call the Gainesville Environmental Services Office at 770-532-7462, or visit www.epa.gov/watersense.

With a water bill tripling from one month to the next, alarm bells rang in Leslie White’s ears.

A leak had sprung at a small apartment complex in Gainesville, spewing upward of 2,500 gallons of water a day.

So White, the owner of Resource Property Management, sent maintenance workers to check residents’ water heaters, faucets and toilets.

“We try to be diligent,” she said.

But none were found to be running, and residents did not report any major changes in consumption habits.

Even dripping taps during recent cold spells and winter storms didn’t explain the surge in use. 

In fact, the specific source of the leak was never identified, White said.

There was talk of installing meters for each unit to get to the bottom of the cause, but the decision was ultimately made to replace an entire pipe system at the complex.

Crews dug a trench the length of several units, carefully laying and fitting new pipe. It was an expensive fix, but the work finished this week. Water service to residents was not disrupted.

The work coincided with so-called “Fix a Leak Week,” an Environmental Protection Agency campaign to raise awareness about leaky household fixtures and irrigation systems.

Through a WaterSense partnership with businesses, manufacturers and public utilities, the EPA provides educational resources about the impact wasted water has on the environment and the bottom line.

The city of Gainesville is participating.

“Leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water in an average home every year — the amount of water it takes to wash 270 loads of laundry,” Jennifer Flowers, Gainesville’s water conservation specialist, said in a news release. “As a WaterSense partner, we are encouraging residents to find and fix leaks to save water in our community.”

The campaign asks residents to check for leaks and dripping faucets, showerheads, sprinklers and toilets.

It also promotes products with a WaterSense label, which are independently certified to use 20 percent less water and perform as well as standard models, and are sold at major retailers.

Ten percent of homes have leaks that waste at least 90 gallons a day, according to the EPA.

And household water leaks waste 1 trillion gallons of water a year nationwide.

The EPA reports that since the program’s inception in 2006, consumers have saved more than $14 billion in their water and energy bills, while conserving in excess of 750 billion gallons of water.

Gainesville offers its water customers free dye tablets to check their toilets for leaks, as well as free conservation kits that include a showerhead, faucet aerators and dye tablets.

Additionally, customers with homes or businesses built prior to 1993 are eligible to participate in the toilet rebate program, which provides a $75 account credit for each qualifying toilet replacement.

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