The Leak Whisperer October 2014

All about the Infrastructure

Dry weather puts premium on water resources


As the drought in Texas continues and water becomes more precious, it’s critical to be proactive in conserving 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.



By Sam Godfrey

In case you needed it official: The Texas Water Development Board’s Best Management Practices for Municipalities, updated last November, lays it all out.

Identifying and fixing leaks is a Best Management Practice. Leak surveys and other components of identifying water losses can help a utility’s bottom line.

content-imgCUTTING EXPENSES: “A responsive leak repair program is essential to reducing water loss. Leak detection and meter testing can be done by the utility or contracted out. Timely repairs and an ongoing preventative maintenance and replacement program will allow the utility to operate efficiently, minimizing operational losses,” TWDB says.

BOLSTERING REVENUES: “Water loss impacts the supply side of water delivery. Therefore, any reductions carry not only the traditional conservation benefits of reducing demand, electricity and chemicals used in treatment and pumping, and water procurement costs, but also do so without reducing
utility revenues. Reducing apparent losses by improving data management and meter accuracy can even increase utility revenues.”

Texas Water Code Section 16.0121(b) requires retail public water utilities to conduct a water audit every five years, unless they have an active financial obligation with the Texas Water Development Board or have more than 3,300
connections, in which case they must conduct an audit annually.

With TWDB writing the rules for the new $2 billion SWIFT fund, more utilities will have a shot at TWDB financing. So we can expect more annual audits…and more efficient utlilities.

How Much Water Can You Afford To Lose?
As water systems plan their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year, they have to take into account the possibility of
continued drought and its effect on the bottom line. Though drought is beyond our control, other factors contributing to water loss – and excessive pumping – are factors that can be addressed.

As drought conditions persist, many water systems run the risk of over-pumping in order to keep up with demand. Leak detection surveys and other systematic procedures for identifying water losses assist utilities by increasing their efficient management of their current water supply from incurring penalties and fines.

Baby, it’s dry outside…

content-imgThe drought has been with us a long time, and it’s going to take more than brief rains to run it off. This July 31 map from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows most of Texas experiencing dry conditions…or worse.
In this kind of climate, your utility can’t afford to waste water. Talk to a SAMCO representative today about how SAMCO can help get your water where it’s supposed to go.

To find a SAMCO leak detection application just click here,

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



By Sam Godfrey

In case you needed it official: The Texas Water Development Board’s Best Management Practices for Municipalities, updated last November, lays it all out.

The drought here in Texas continues, both directly and indirectly, to adversely effect a significant portion of our agricultural, commercial, and industrial enterprises as well as
many residential water users across the state.

We continue to see reminders of the Texas drought in the media and rightly so. State regulators are developing further conservation measures in an effort to ameliorate the impact of the drought on our state.

content-imgMeanwhile, the costs of developing, processing and distributing safe, potable water to our citizens and businesses continue to rise, In this way, the value of water lost from our distribution systems increases, which significantly diminishes the financial strength of our mainly public water utility systems. But, of course, there remains ever present political and public opposition to water user rate increases.

Water industry associations, agencies and water supply entities frequently define 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.

Further, these loss percentages bandied about are frequently quite optimistic, if not downright unrealistic. One statewide survey suggests a statewide urban water loss at around 15%. However, more in-depth analyses of individual systems has disclosed actual water losses in the range of 15% to 30%, with some systems reaching 40% to 50% losses and more.

Before any water utility considers any costly overhaul of its system, it should first take definitive steps to confirm its actual losses, beginning with verification of the y the measuring accuracy of its production meter(s). Without first determining with certainty how much water is produced, can it determine how much water is being lost from the system?

Then and only then, can further measures be considered. 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 is verification of production meter installations is so important to the water system?

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 actually 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 previously thought.

Once a production meter is properly calibrated, some of these follow-up actions may be needed:

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).

Utilities must bring their hidden water crisis into the open because, unlike drought, it’s a crisis they can do something about.

To find a SAMCO leak detection application just click here,

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

Rains, cooler weather won’t fix utilities’ drought-ravaged systems

Rains, cooler weather won’t fix utilities’ drought-ravaged systems


Most of Texas can look forward to more drought through Nov. 30, according to the Climate Prediction Center.

The CPC in August predicted some portions of north and east Texas may see some improvement, but since those areas are already in dire shape, the improvement may be from bad to not-quite-as-bad.

In the last report of September, the US Drought Monitor showed about 80 percent of Texas was in moderate drought, and almost half the state was in severe drought.

That will put more strain on utilities trying to provide water to thirsty customers. TCEQ reported at the end of September that more than one-in-four Texas utilities is restricting water use.

Even if rain returns with the fall weather, utilities won’t be completely in the clear. The strain put on their distribution systems during the hot summer may have caused leaks they don’t know about….leaks that will continue until they’re found, rain or shine.

Utilities who want to make sure they aren’t wasting water call Sam Godfrey, the Leak Whisperer.

Godfrey of Austin-based SAMCO Leak Detection Services, Inc. ( has more than 26 years experience in dealing with water system integrity.

Finding underwater leaks is not easy, even with high-tech listening devices. SAMCO crews carefully inspect the route of a utility’s distribution system. The acoustic equipment allows SAMCO to identify and pinpoint leaks, then summarize the findings and make recommendation for repairs.

“Utilities used to just wait for the water to bubble up. When they saw a big puddle where it wasn’t supposed to be, they knew they had to fix it,” Godfrey said.

But the littlest leaks can rob a utility, and some may never show up. “I’ve identified water leaks and water loss that would never have been located if we hadn’t used our listening devices,” Godfrey recalls.

Those drought-caused leaks will be wasting water all fall and winter, but with Godfrey’s help, utilities can tighten their system before next summer’s onslaught.

To find a SAMCO leak detection application just click here,

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

Public wants to follow the money …and the water

Public wants to follow the money… and the water

By Sam Godfrey

Water is liquid money.

Like money, there’s never seems to be enough water when you need it. Like money, when you’re in a losing water situation, you got to cut your losses.

Water systems are going to have leaks. The trick is to find and fix the little leaks before they become big leaks.

For a long time, if a utility pumped just 15 percent more than it sold, that was good enough. Utilities are going to look back some day and think of that time as the “good old days.”

The Legislature and the public aren’t going to accept that level of water loss much longer. In the regular session this spring, the Legislature passed three bills that tightened the requirements for water audits.

  • House Bill 857 requires annual water audits for retail public utilities with more than 3,300 connections.
  • House Bill 1461 requires reporting results of water audits to each customer annually, either through communication in the next water bill after the audit is filed or through the next Consumer Confidence Report after the audit is filed.
  • House Bill 3605 ties Texas Water Development Board funding to water audits. TWDB has several financial programs to help utilities close their leaks. Check the TWDB website,, or contact TWDB’s Darrell Nichols at 512-463-8491.

Just as there are more calls for “transparency” when it comes to money, there are more calls for “transparency” when it comes to water.

SAMCO is getting more calls from utilities across the region to help keep small leaks from becoming big leaks and big headaches for city officials and utility executives.

As with money, when it comes to saving water, there’s no time like the present.

Hope for rain but keep your system tight while you’re waiting.


Sam Godfrey is the owner of SAMCO Leak Detection & Water Assessment, which provides comprehensive leak detection services for water systems.

To find a SAMCO leak detection application just click here,

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