SAMCO uncovers significant hidden leak reports Hill Country Newspaper

SAMCO in the news…

One of the most important things to all of us is water; as a noun it is used to quench our thirst or as verb it will provide nourishment for the landscape and livestock. In either case it needs to get from the source to the last stage, most often through pipes.

This was the need that was addressed at the last city council meeting in January; the effective and efficient use of water pipes. Over a decade ago the city water system had a significant loss of water. This unaccounted for loss from the water system was the difference in production and the total accumulation of metered usage. 

The city then hired SAMCO Leak Detection out of Austin to conduct an audit of the water system. As a result a significant leak was found along Main Street near the Cibolo Creek. By using specialized listening equipment a leak below the water line of the creek the leak that was not visible was identified.

Read the entire article


New Water Consultant Partnerships Announced


SAMCO has formed partnerships with water consultants to provide additional services to Texas communities. The partnerships with Texas Drinking Water Solutions and Elston Johnson and Associates allow for additional planning, reporting, regulatory compliance and project financing capabilities beyond the leak detection and field services normally completed by SAMCO.

James Beauchamp of Texas Drinking Water Solutions is recently retired from TCEQ where he served as a Special Assistant to the Drinking Water Standards Section. This experience coupled with his time investigating and supporting public water systems contributes to his expertise in regulatory compliance assistance, as well as GIS and distribution mapping.

Elston Johnson of Elston Johnson and Associates (EJA) has worked with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  He has over 20 years of experience with water system regulatory compliance, permitting, and policy and regulation development. Also with EJA is Barb Johnson. Barb holds a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership and has more than 20 years of experience in leadership development, team effectiveness, organizational culture and strategic foresight.  She understands the need to develop a strong people strategy to support the business aims of Financial Sustainability, Quality and Accessibility.

Services offered through this partnership include preparation of, or assistance with:

Compliance/Technical Requirements

  • Water Loss Audit
  • Water Use Survey
  • Drought Contingency Plan
  • Sample Siting Plan
  • Monitoring Plan
  • Consumer Confidence Report
  • 85% Report- Capacity Report
  • Alternative Capacity Requirement Analysis and Submission
  • Exception Requests
  • Emergency Preparedness Plan
  • Environmental Permit / Compliance
  • Asset Management Plan
  • Engineering Design Plan
  • Record Drawings

Funding Assistance

  • Funding Information and Sources
  • Funding Applications
  • Public Outreach/Education

Leak Detection/Field Services

  • Leak Detection
  • Leak Repair
  • Flow Recording/Monitoring
  • Manhole Inspection
  • GIS Assets / Leaks
  • Well Meter Calibrations
  • Updated Distribution Maps

Strategic Leadership

  • Strategic Foresight
  • Meeting Facilitation
  • Leadership Development
  • Team Effectiveness / Teambuilding
  • Organizational Development
  • Operations Training

If you have interest in learning more about the expanded services that SAMCO is now offering, please contact Sam Godfrey at the TCEQ Public Drinking Water Conference or give him a call.

The Leak Whisperer

All about the Infrastructure

Winter allows utilities to assess water systems


We’ve been through it all in 2015: drought, floods, flash drought. You know that the push-and-pull of moisture in the ground could wreak havoc on your infrastructure. To prepare for whatever is coming next year – Texas is a dry state, after all – it’s critical to be proactive in assessing your system so that you can efficiently use the water supplies you do have.

One important piece of that puzzle is making sure your water infrastructure is in good working condition.

Regular analysis of your water system can help reduce water losses by locating physical leakage, confirming water meters are in good working order, and avoiding expensive repairs to roads, sidewalks, and buildings caused by leaking water.

Not only will these steps save precious water when demand peaks next summer, they also save money, and help water systems meet the requirements for state drought plans and collect data to make vital maintenance, budget, and management decisions.

State funding can help pay for repair

Several well-stocked state funds are available to help a utility repair its leaking infrastructure. Here’s a brief list:

  • The Texas Water Development Fund
  • The Water Infrastructure Fund
  • The Rural Water Assistance Fund
  • The Agricultural Water Conservation Grant and Loan Program
  • The Economically Distressed Areas Program

For more information, contact the Texas Water Development Board at 512-563-
4841 or click here.

To find a SAMCO leak detection application just click here,

or call Sam Godfrey at (512) 751-5325 for more information.

Common Sense Water Management Practices

By Sam Godfrey

There are two basic common sense steps that a water manager should take to improve the water system’s physical and fiscal integrity.

The first measure is to reduce the cost of water being produced by engaging programmed leak detection surveys of the system to locate those points where water is physically lost from the system before it can be delivered to end-users. When those points are identified
and repaired, the costs to pump, purchase, and treat water for delivery are commensurately reduced.

The second action that the water manager can take is to make sure that the customer meters placed in service are appropriate as to size, type, installation and that their effective
accuracy is critically monitored. Some water managers may naively believe that the newest technology brings about improved accuracy, but that is not always the case. By making sure that customer meters are performing properly over time, the water utility can realize the cash flow needed to properly maintain an efficient system.
Of course, when all customers are paying their fair share for the water they use, wasteful use of water is reduced and available water resources are conserved.

How much water and dollars can your system afford to lose?

As water systems plan their budgets for the coming fiscal year, they have to take into account the possibility of significant seasonal changes that may affect demand and
water revenue, although seasonal changes and drought are beyond our immediate control, we can use programmed leak detection measures to reduce the cost of excessive pumping.
In addition, by proper and critical attention to meter management on both production and consumer sides the utility manager will have the funds required to develop and maintain an efficient, safe and reliable water system.
It’s the old, proverbial Win-Win.


Sec. 16.0121. WATER AUDITS.

(a) In this section, “retail public utility” has the meaning assigned by Section 13.002.

(b) Except as provided by Subsection (b-1), a retail public utility providing potable water shall perform and file with the [Texas Water Development Board] an annual water audit computing the utility’s system water loss during the preceding year.

(b-1) A retail public utility providing potable water that does not receive from the board financial assistance and is providing service to 3,300 or fewer connections shall perform and file with the board every five years a water audit computing the utility’s most recent annual system water loss.

The board shall develop appropriate methodologies and submission dates for a water audit required under Subsection (b) or (b-1) for the following categories of retail public utilities:

  • (1) retail public utilities serving populations of 100,000 or more;
  • (2) retail public utilities serving populations of 50,000 or more but less than 100,000;
  • (3) retail public utilities serving populations of more than 10,000 but less than 50,000; and
  • (4) retail public utilities serving populations of 10,000 or less.

(d) In developing the methodologies required by Subsection (c), the board shall ensure that each methodology:

  • (1) is financially feasible for the category of retail public utility for which it is developed; and
  • (2) considers differences in population density, source of water supply, the mean income of the service population, and other factors determined by the board.

(e) The methodologies required by Subsection (c) shall account for various components of system water loss, including loss from distribution lines, inaccuracies in meters or accounting practices, and theft.

(f) The board shall compile the information included in the water audits required by Subsections (b) and (b-1) according to category of retail public utility and according to regional water planning area. The regional planning group for a
regional planning area shall use the information to identify appropriate water management strategies in the development of a regional water plan under Section 16.053.

(g) A retail public utility providing potable water that receives from the board financial assistance shall use a portion of that financial assistance, or any
additional financial assistance provided by the board for the purpose described by this subsection, to mitigate the utility’s system water loss if, based on a water
audit filed by the utility under this section, the water loss meets or exceeds the threshold established by board rule.

(h) For each category of retail public utility listed in Subsection (c), the board shall adopt rules regarding:

  • (1) the amount of system water loss that requires a utility to take action under Subsection (g); and
  • (2) the use of financial assistance from the board as required by Subsection (g) to mitigate system water loss.

State funding can help pay for repair

Several well-stocked state funds are available to help a utility repair its leaking infrastructure. Here’s a brief list:

  • The Texas Water Development Fund
  • The Water Infrastructure Fund
  • The Rural Water Assistance Fund
  • The Agricultural Water Conservation Grant and Loan Program
  • The Economically Distressed Areas Program

For more information, contact the Texas Water Development Board at 512-563- 4841 or click here.

To find a SAMCO leak detection application just click here,

or call Sam Godfrey at (512) 751-5325 for more information.

Pursuing Water and Revenue Losses, A First and Critical Step

By Sam Godfrey

The continuing drought crisis here in Texas affects many of our agricultural, commercial, and industrial enterprises as well as residential water users. This prolonged drought continues
to receive much attention in the media, and rightly so. The state legislature and governmental agencies are developing further conservation measures in an effort to ameliorate the situation.

There is another type of water crisis here in Texas, one that is receiving little, if any, public attention, one that is not widely known nor openly discussed. This hidden crisis is the
enormous volume of treated water lost from our public water supply distribution systems, day in and day out. In many instances, these losses are causing an additional, and
sometimes critical, financial squeeze on our public utility systems.

Of course the specifics contributing to this growing shortage of funds vary from system to system. Following (in no particular order of importance) are some of the typical situations confronting our water systems:

A. The costs of developing, processing and distributing safe, potable water continue to rise due to increases in costs associated with energy; compliance with drinking water regulations; costs of treatment chemicals and other consumables: and ground water withdrawal fees and other regulatory charges.

B. Political and public opposition to water user rate increases.

C. Physical loss of water escaping from aging distribution system infrastructures, causing our utilities to incur additional production costs and capital expenditures just to meet existing
demand. The value of that water is forever lost, thereby reducing the available cash flow needed for our utility enterprises to operate at optimum efficiency.

Perhaps for the sake of convenience or simplicity, water industry associations, agencies and water supply entities frequently describe water losses in terms of percentages. Some systems tell themselves and the agencies to which
they report, that their annual losses are “only” 8, 10, or 15%. This means that a system producing 10 million gallons per day with a reported 10% loss would not receive revenue to cover the cost of producing an extra one million gallons per
day, or approximately 365 million gallons per year, not a sum to sneeze at.

After many years of evaluating water distribution systems, the author has found that the loss percentages bandied about are frequently quite optimistic. One statewide survey, based in
part on voluntary and unsubstantiated reports, suggests a statewide urban water loss at around 15%. However, based on data developed as a result of in-depth analyses of
individual systems, these loss percentages usually fall within the range of 15% to 30%, with some systems reaching 40% to 50% losses, and more.

When governmental officials and water system management do become aware that water and revenue loss issues exist in their systems, all too often their well-intentioned, knee-jerk
reaction is to throw significant amounts of money at the apparent problem. A utility system should not begin to embark on any sort of costly program without first completing a
thorough and conclusive investigation sufficient to determine the nature of the problem, and to quantify its economic cost.

As a necessary first step, before taking any further measures, it is imperative that each water system determine with certainty the effective measuring accuracy of its production
meter(s) upon which any further investigations and possible remedies would be based.

In most systems, the production meters are of a size and flow capacity that requires either Class II Turbine, Propeller, Electro-Magnetic or other types of inferential meters, all of
which depend heavily on proper installation in order to deliver accurate and reliable data. So, regardless of the intrinsic accuracy that a meter may have had when leaving the
factory, that performance level is attained in the field only when the specific meter is suitable for the specific application and is properly installed. Proper application and installation
can be confirmed by qualified inspection and testing in place.

Why then is it so important to determine the accuracy of water production meters? Here are two real world examples to illustrate the benefits:

In an industry-heavy, municipal system on the Texas coast, an antiquated meter was being used to measure the total intake from its raw water source into its water treatment plant.
With careful and deliberate effort, this supply meter was tested and confirmed to be over-registering by 11%. As a result, the municipality had been paying 11% too much for the water they
were receiving. By engaging a diligent and unbiased accuracy test of their source meter, this municipality was able to reduce its water purchase costs and determine that its apparent
losses from the distribution system were significantly less than initially thought.

In a municipal system in East Texas, a battery of production meters were tested and found to be under-registering by 16%, due in part to poor meter installation and meter selection. As a
result of the tests, management determined that their actual water loss was 16% greater than previously thought. This prompted the need for a flow study, which led to the discovery
that the largest water user on the system was receiving water through a large diameter unmetered connection.

There have been cases when production meters or system data was so inaccurate that water loss reports indicated the reporting system sold more water than it produced!

One can see that using the results obtained from critical production meter evaluations, water systems will be able to determine the extent to which any further measures are
needed to identify and quantify water and revenue losses. Some of the follow-up actions that may be needed include, for example:

A. Distribution system flow measurements and analyses to evaluate the existing potential for underground leakage, system-wide, by zone, or sector.

B. Field inspections of existing customer meter connections and interconnections, to determine condition and conformance with appropriate size, type, installation requirements, etc.

C Evaluations of Customer Meter Reading, Billing and Data Management procedures.

D. Leak surveys to pinpoint locations where water is escaping from the distribution network (the need for which may be determined from the results of the flow measurements in A above).

Regardless of what the future may hold for Texas in terms of water availability and drought, the fact is that we need to take better care of the water we now have within the custody and
control of our public water supply systems.

State funding can help pay for repair

Several well-stocked state funds are available to help a utility repair its leaking infrastructure. Here’s a brief list:

  • The Texas Water Development Fund
  • The Water Infrastructure Fund
  • The Rural Water Assistance Fund
  • The Agricultural Water Conservation Grant and Loan Program
  • The Economically Distressed Areas Program

For more information, contact the Texas Water Development Board at 512-563- 4841 or click here.

To find a SAMCO leak detection application just click here,

or call Sam Godfrey at (512) 751-5325 for more information.