Mount Ida considers helium leak test for water system

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    Brian Goodring, a water systems specialist with Utility Service Group, speaks to Mount Ida Aldermen about the helium leak detection technology his company provides.
    Brian Goodring, a water systems specialist with Utility Service Group, speaks to Mount Ida Aldermen about the helium leak detection technology his company provides.

    The Mount Ida City Council heard a presentation regarding the possibility of the city water department using helium leak detection technology to identify leaks in the water system.
    Trey Fiorello, told the board that the city water department has been involved in a major repair project that includes replacing several outdated meters and fixing leaks in the pipes. The renovations have helped with the city’s water loss, but he he stated that they are still losing around 33 percent of their usage each month.
    Fiorello stated that they needed to find the leaks that they can’t see. He pointed out there are drains in town that constantly run water and they need to know where the water is coming from.
    He introduced Brian Woodring, a water system consultant with Utility Service Group out of North Little Rock.
    Woodring stated that the helium leak detection technology used by his company employs the gas trace methodology. They insert food grade helium into the water system. They then use a sniffer to monitor helium levels along the water line. A leak is indicated when helium levels rise above atmospheric levels.
    He assured the aldermen that the process is safe and the holes for the testing are non-invasive. He stated that he is proposing a five year contract with the city at a cost of $14,000 per week of testing. He added that they would spend two weeks testing each year.
    Fiorello stated that they wanted to test mainly the downtown area, which utilizes some of the oldest lines in the city. He stated that if they could reduce the water loss by 10 percent it would more than pay for itself in the long run.
    Alderman Melvin Simpson stated that the city was losing around $10,000 worth of water each month.
    Fiorello stated that the water line in question was installed in the 1930s or 1940s and is long overdue for retirement. He said that they have tied people on the old line to new line when possible, but there were several people still on the line. He added that replacing the line would require them to dig through existing streets and highways.
    The council members also discussed the city’s payment for the disposal of shingles being replaced in the area.

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