At the monthly Brandenburg City Council meeting last week, Public Works Director T.J. Hughes gave his monthly department report which included water loss at 21 percent for last month. When asked by council member Bruce Fackler why the water loss was so high last month, Hughes pointed to old meters, leaks, hydrant flushing and Nucor.
Mayor Ronnie Joyner asked why Nucor would be an issue with water loss. It was pointed out that Nucor had been using a fire hydrant instead of their metered water line to fill water trucks. Council member Brian Claycomb asked what effect that Nucor pulling off a hydrant would have on the rest of town. Hughes responded that, if they open it up in a hurry, it would put places like Kroger and McDonalds on the By-pass out of water due to the drop in pressure it would cause.
Claycomb then pointed out, “Well, I think we need to press upon them the effect of what they are doing. They probably don’t know this, but they need to be on notice.”
Hughes responded, “They know. They’ve been told.”
Public utilities such as Brandenburg Water Works are allowed by the KY Public Service Commission to pass up to 15 percent of their water loss cost onto their customers. Brandenburg Water Works claims to have an average daily consumption of 550,000 gallons a day by its customers. Using those numbers, that would put consumption for the month of October somewhere around 17,000,000 gallons. A 21 percent loss would equate to about 3,500,000 gallons of unaccounted for water. Leaks and hydrant flushing are unavoidable causes of water loss. Certain customers being allowed to bypass the meter and thus the cash register by pulling free water from a hydrant is a whole different beast.
Maybe a better question would be – does the city plan on allowing the rest of its citizens to fill their swimming pools next spring from city fire hydrants? There are a lot of crop fields surrounding Brandenburg. It would appear the precedence is being set that would allow those farmers to pull up to a fire hydrant next spring with their spraying rigs and fill their water tanks, too. Or do only steel mills get this special treatment in Brandenburg?