Stop toilet leaks

March 23, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

To keep a vital natural resource from going down the drain, conservation officials mailed leak-detection kits last week to every single-family residence in Issaquah.

The city Resource Conservation Office and Cascade Water Alliance sent the kits — a dye strip to be used to determine whether toilets leak water. A leaky toilet can waste thousands of gallons of water each year.

“Every home has toilets and eventually they all leak,” Mike Brent, water resources manager for the water alliance, said during a City Council meeting last week.

Brent joined city Resource Conservation Office Manager David Fujimoto and a water conservation mascot — a blue, anthropomorphic water droplet named Wayne Drop — at the March 15 meeting to discuss the importance of leak detection.

“Fix a Leak Week is just one of several opportunities that we have to encourage residents and business owners and others to take advantage of incentives, educational programs, technical assistance and other things that are available to the community to help folks use water more efficiently,” Fujimoto said.

During the meeting, Mayor Ava Frisinger also proclaimed March 15-21 as Fix a Leak Week. The week serves as a reminder for people to check plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems for leaks.

Including Issaquah, the water alliance sent the leak-detection kits to 100,000 residences. The water alliance also launched a commercial on local cable channels to promote the program.

Organizers estimate the toilet-leak effort has conserved 128,000 gallons of water per day during the two years since the water alliance launched the program.

Federal Environmental Protection Agency officials lauded the water alliance for efforts to promote Fix a Leak Week.

“EPA is proud to recognize Cascade Water Alliance as one of the leaders in the Pacific Northwest in helping to advance water conservation,” Mike Bussell, director of the EPA Office of Water and Watersheds in Seattle, said in a news release.

Nationwide, more than 1 trillion gallons of water leak from residences each year. Brent said up to 5 million gallons of water could be conserved each year if people repaired leaks in 10 percent of Issaquah homes.

“That’s an awful lot of water that is wasted for no good reason,” he added.

Cascade Water Alliance will also partner with local hardware stores to offer discounts on replacement flappers and free classes about toilet repair.

“The purpose of Fix a Leak Week is to encourage homeowners to find leaks in their home and fix them — it’s just that simple,” Brent said during the council meeting.

The regional water alliance focuses on water supply issues in Eastside and South King County cities. Cascade Water Alliance members include the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District, Issaquah, Bellevue and other cities and water districts. The plateau district serves about 16,000 water and 10,000 sewer customers in parts of Issaquah, Sammamish and unincorporated King County.

Formed in 1999 and headquartered in Bellevue, the water alliance supplies water to more than 370,000 county residents and 22,000 businesses — or nearly 50 percent of retail water sales in King County outside of Seattle.

“We have a long history of water conservation here in the community, and an outstanding partnership with the Cascade Water Alliance,” Fujimoto said.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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