Single Austin pipe leaked 105 million gallons this year

66 inch pipe located at the site where utility crews repaired a transmission main that leaked over 100 million gallons of water this year.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A break in one of the city’s largest water pipes leaked 105 million gallons of potable water this year before being repaired, according to records obtained from Austin Water Utility through the Texas Public Information Act.

The leak occurred in East Austin on a 66-inch transmission main, which is one of the largest water pipes in the city, according to utility officials.

The volume and repair cost for the leak were both more than 10 times larger than any other leak since Jan. 1, 2013, according to leak logs previously obtained by KXAN for that time period.

“It was one of the mains where it took us some time to find [the leak],” said Austin Water Utility spokesman Jason Hill. “Once we were in there we found a couple different areas that needed some repair, and we took our time and did it methodically.”

The location of the 66-inch transmission main leak in East Austin, according to Austin Water Utility.
The location of the 66-inch transmission main leak in East Austin, according to Austin Water Utility.

KXAN first reported on this leak in July, but the city could not give any specifics on the amount of water lost, or the duration of the spill, at that time.

The pipe leak occurred near Johnny Morris Road less than a mile north of FM 969 according to city records. Officials said the leak was located deep underground, making it difficult to locate.

The latest records show the 105 million gallon leak lasted about five months, from Jan. 29 through June 28 of this year, with a brief stoppage in late March, records show.

The cost to repair the transmission main totaled approximately $1.1 million, according to utility data.

In a July interview, Austin Water Utility Director Greg Meszaros told KXAN about the difficulty in locating, shutting down and repairing such a major pipe. In this case, the utility sent a specialized sonar-emitting ball down the line to detect and find the leak.

“It is very time consuming, and it is very expensive to repair these transmission mains.” Meszaros said. “Taking a transmission main out of service is a big deal.”

Earlier this year, KXAN obtained logs of potable water line breaks throughout Austin from Jan. 1, 2013 through April of 2015. The largest and most expensive single leak noted by the utility in that time period totaled 9.5 million gallons and was fixed at a cost of about $78,000. The leak was fixed in October of 2014 near MoPac Expressway and 35th Street.

Below is a map of all the leaks cataloged in those records.

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