published Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Georgia helps track down Fort Oglethorpe water losses

 Phil Parker of Fort Oglethorpe
Phil Parker of Fort Oglethorpe
Ronnie Moore

A state authority will help Fort Oglethorpe do some detective work to help figure out why the city's water system appears to be losing a lot of water.

The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority will hire a contractor to inspect up to 44 large water meters connected to 2-inch to 6-inch diameter pipelines.

"They'll test the meters to see how accurate they're reading," Public Works Director Phil Parker said.

He said the work won't cost the city anything -- except for labor.

"The only thing we really have to do is put a crew with them," Parker said.

City Councilman Clay Kissner, who has highlighted the city's apparent water losses, is happy the state authority will pitch in.

"I think it's a major first step to getting our water loss down," Kissner said.

Kissner compared the amount of water Fort Oglethorpe bought from Tennessee American Water in 2012 to the amount the city billed its customers and found that monthly losses ranged from 34 percent to 52 percent.

"We've had a major water loss problem for several years," he said.

Kissner said he's been accused of bringing up the water loss to play politics and "poke" at former Public Works Director Jeff Long and former City Manager Ron Goulart, who were dismissed suddenly on March 22, the day Kissner took office.

The fact that the state authority is willing to look into it, Kissner said, should "show them that it wasn't ... political."

"Phil Parker did initiate the grant -- Phil's been amazing," Kissner said. "All I did was raise awareness."

Parker, who has been in charge of the city's water system for years, doesn't think the city's experiencing a physical loss of half its water. He figures the shortfall is because of things such as water meter inaccuracies. The city still hasn't heard exactly when the state-funded crew will come to inspect the meters.

"We should be hearing something, hopefully, next week," Parker said.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfree or 423-757.6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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