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Hunting for leaks: Water woes in Dering Harbor


Village officials spent the week hunting for possible leaks in Dering Harbor’s antiquated water system since a spike in usage has drawn saltwater into the public water supply. This has caused pressure to drop system-wide, putting at risk the aging water tower.

Village Mayor John T. Colby Jr. said Tuesday he’s been working with Water Commissioner Hap Bowditch and Highway Supervisor Richard Surozenski, with support from members of the Board of Trustees and other residents, to find out where leaks in the system might be located.

Mr. Colby  — who only recently was appointed mayor following the sudden departure of Tim Hogue, who quit the post after 25 years when his party was defeated in the June election —  has explained the process in a series of emails to residents, keeping them abreast of actions taken so far and alternatives yet to be employed.

Initially, they’ve relied on a process of elimination, shutting off a section at a time to see how this impacts the amount of water being pumped by the newer of the village’s two wells, which has a device that can accurately measure flow. The older well can’t be used for this process because it has no such device. Instead, a calculation based on the top capacity of the pump must be used, which doesn’t provide the degree of accuracy needed to source a leak, Mr. Colby explained.

A representative from the company that is assisting the village in a project to replace its aging water tank was expected to consult with the team Wednesday. Mr. Colby said the village has reached out to the U.S. Geological Survey, which may be able to provide more sophisticated equipment to aid in the search.

Thus far, a leak has been discovered at an unoccupied property and a couple of irrigation hoses were found to be running, but Mr. Colby said the amount of water attributed to these items is relatively small. That the system, parts of which date from the late 1800s, is not accurately mapped has made the search more difficult.

While inconvenienced by periodic water shut-offs and voluntary water use restrictions, Village residents expressed appreciation to Mr. Colby and new trustees Ari J. Benacerraf, Karen Kelsey, Besty Morgan and Patrick Parcells for efforts to figure out the cause of the 500,000 gallon spike in usage last month and for the daily email briefings.

“Good job to all of you,” resident Ken Walker wrote in response to an update. “We have more communication from this board in the last two weeks than we had from the previous ‘administration’ in the last 10 years!”