See the video and original story on KSAT 12 by Marilyn Moritz
It’s common knowledge that San Antonio’s summers can be blazingly hot. However, few of us stop to think about the rippling effects of this heat beyond the immediate discomfort it brings. A peculiar consequence of this relentless heat is now manifesting itself beneath the very feet of San Antonio’s residents. You might be thinking, “What on earth could the sun’s heat have to do with what’s happening underground?” Surprisingly, the answer lies within our water supply system.
For many, the iconic image of a hot summer day might be the sight of children playing in a water sprinkler or an overflowing pool. Yet, this summer, beneath the now crunchy, brown grass, there’s a far less joyful scene unfolding: pipes that supply water to countless homes are springing leaks, and the city’s plumbers have their hands full. Chase Anderson, president of Shafer Services, remarked on the unexpected boom in business, “This summer, with as dry as it’s been, we have gotten an exceptional number of calls about having a leak in the yard.”
However, it’s not just about the inconvenience of a minor leak. These pipe damages can lead to the loss of thousands of gallons of water, much of which homeowners might not even be aware of until they receive an astonishingly high water bill. Anderson notes, “We’ve seen folks that have had water bills four or five times their typical monthly amount.”
So, why is this happening?
Anderson has a simple explanation, “The ground’s moving. Everything’s drying up.” When soil gets excessively dry, it undergoes contraction. This, coupled with the heavy demand for water during the summer months, leaves the underground pipes vulnerable to shifts, which often result in cracking. Older PVC pipes are the primary victims, given their potential brittleness over time. Anderson particularly points out that these leaks are commonly found at junctions or near water meters.
But how can I be sure if I have a water leak in my yard?
Besides the dreaded spike in your water bill, certain signs might indicate a possible leak in your yard. For instance, an unexplained soggy patch or an out-of-place green tuft of grass amid a stretch of brown could very well be signaling a leak. To safeguard against such hidden water wastage, installing a leak detector might be a wise decision. While they can be on the pricier side, the potential savings in water and money can make it a worthy investment. Consumer Reports, for instance, recommends the $500 Flo Moen Smart Water Shutoff System model 900-001re.
In conclusion, while summer in San Antonio brings with it a myriad of joys, this year’s heatwave has also shed light on the unseen consequences of soaring temperatures. While we can’t control the weather, being vigilant and proactive can save both our pockets and precious water resources.