Ottawa could save millions of dollars by plugging the leaks in its water supply, according to senior management.

Better detection technology, reinvesting savings into new pipes, automated meters and improved billing are just a few of the items in a new water loss control strategy outlined yesterday by Ken Brothers, Ottawa’s head of utility services.

The plan is meant to battle the deteriorating pipelines, poor meter readings and even theft that sees water lost or diverted as it is delivered through 2,700 kilometres of pipeline and to the 193,350 service connections in the city.


“By supporting these new programs you will get your money back in spades,” Brothers said.

In 2006, there were 267 water main repairs — those that were actually detected. Brothers said part of the problem is that many of the pipes were installed just after World War II and are corrosive. As well, until recently Ottawa did not have an efficient leak detection system, which means many breaks went unnoticed and have now created a large backlog to repair.

In some cases, according to a staff report, water is being detoured around meters or the meters are being tampered with.

As well, contractors are allowed to fill water trucks for swimming pools, to irrigate trees and clean the streets but since hydrants are not metered there’s no direct way for the city to monitor how much water they take.

“The opportunity is there for the system to be abused,” said Coun. Marianne Wilkinson.

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