Survey Finds 177 Water Main Leaks in 23 Orange County Municipalities

Survey Finds 177 Water Main Leaks in 23 Orange County Municipalities
The Woodward dam at the Shawangunk reservoir in Middletown, N.Y., on Feb. 10, 2023. (Cara Ding/The Epoch Times)
Cara Ding

The most recent leak detection survey sponsored by the Orange County Water Authority identified 177 water supply leaks in more than 20 participating municipalities.

These leaks were found to cause daily treated water losses of about 613,000 gallons, which is about the volume of an Olympic-size swimming pool.

If all leaks were fixed, it would result in nearly $1.8 million in annual savings, according to a water authority report obtained by The Epoch Times.

The savings were calculated based on specific municipal and average water rates.

The county leak detection grant program is voluntary, and participating municipalities must commit to fixing leaks identified in the survey, Orange County Water Authority Administrator Eenika Cruz said at the latest physical services legislative committee meeting.

Among the 29 participants in the latest survey, the City of Newburgh was found to have the largest number of leaks, 27, and the greatest treated water losses, 139,000 gallons per day.

The Town of Newburgh had the second-largest daily losses at about 128,000 gallons.

The Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson was ranked third, with about 80,000 gallons of losses per day.

The City of Middletown, the largest city in the county per the latest U.S. census, was found to have lost 12,500 gallons per day through 10 or so leaks over 60 surveyed miles.

No leaks or treated water losses were identified in six of the participating municipalities: the Town of Blooming Grove, the Village of South Blooming Grove, the Town of Hamptonburgh, the Town of Montgomery, the Town of Warwick, and the Village of Florida.

The latest survey was completed at the end of last year.

Since the launch of the leak detection program in 2001, the water authority has conducted six such surveys and located an accumulative number of 1,065 leaks throughout the county.

The county water authority was founded in 1988 in the aftermath of a major drought to address the long-term water needs of Orange County residents.

Until the early 1990s, the water authority was singularly focused on building a county-wide water loop, having purchased land and obtained hundreds of easements for that purpose.

Over the past 30 years, the organization’s mission has evolved to include watershed and water source protection, public education, and the promotion of intermunicipal cooperation.

A major ongoing watershed protection initiative by the water authority is the land conservation surrounding Browns Pond in the Town of New Windsor, a secondary reservoir for the City of Newburgh residents.

On behalf of the county water authority, Open Space Institute is under contract to purchase two large parcels around the reservoir following three years of negotiations.

The Browns Pond initiative will be partly funded by a $1.7 million state grant.