Derby water leak leads to huge bill

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DERBY, Kan. (KAKE) -

Normally a water main break is discovered right away. The water percolates to the surface and gets reported.  

But the city of Derby didn't realize it had a water main break until the bill came in from the city of Wichita, which sells water to Derby.

"It was about a $600,000 bill," said Derby City Manager Kathy Sexton.

Sexton said the higher than normal water bill made workers realize there was a leak somewhere. And they found it by looking at the billing data.

She said city crews walked along Spring Creek, and found where water was streaming into the creek where it shouldn't be. Once a contractor dug down to the water main they realized how big their line break was.

What makes it more unusual and undetectable, is that the leak didn't cause customers to go without water or lose pressure due to redundancy in their system.

Wichita knocked the bill down to about $516,000. It was paid through the city's water fund, which is money customers pay into for repairs. But now that fund is depleted.

Taxes will not be raised to pay the bill.

Sexton said "The water rates cover all the water expenses in Derby. It's not tax subsidized. For now we have enough money to pay the bills. We have enough money to fix the pipe."  

She said bids will go out to fix the 16 inch water main, replacing the old iron piping with PVC piping. The work will likely be done in November or December.

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