Brian Shay: ‘This is us trying to solve the problem’

On Monday night, the city of Hoquiam solved two issues the city has faced.

Hoquiam City Council approved a bid to purchase a water leak correlator to “identify water leaks in the Hoquiam water system.” Shay explained what this will do.

“This is a device that will help us pinpoint a water leak, the water leaks throughout the system,” Shay said. “We can connect onto a piece of pipe and (with GPS) it will go out and find water leaks. … This winter, we had so many freezing pipes break. We had some we looked for, for several days. This will cut the time down dramatically.”

Shay said the system, which included one bid from Hydrevo LLC., for a total of $25,047 that includes tax and delivery, is “state of the art.” The money will come from the water utility budget.

The city council approved it unanimously.

“We had budgeted to actually pay to have a company come in and just look for leaks in the system to reduce our water losses throughout the year,” Shay said. “This was actually about the same amount of money. And now we can do it all on our own without having to contract out the service.”

Dave Hinchen, city councilor, gave some insight into the value of this type of device.

“I’m a utility manager and have worked with water systems. I can tell you these things are a godsend,” Hinchen said. “We don’t own one of these but we’ve had somebody come in with these. (It’s) very difficult to find water leaks. These are worth their weight in gold.”

Shay said the city did a test when a leak was found.

“(It) worked like a charm,” Shay said.

While the correlator cannot prevent water main breaks, Shay said when the city has a water loss, it’ll help with that.

“Sometimes we’ll see we’re losing water from the reservoirs and we don’t even know there’s a leak … ,” Shay said. “We can instantly go out and start looking for a leak with this device.”

According to Shay, it can be used “over and over and over.”

Shay spoke about how the problem with leaks has worsened of late.

“Years ago when we did our water efficiency setting, we had losses under 6%,” Shay said. “The last couple years we’ve been over 20%, 30%.”

Another councilor asked about whether the city has a requirement to have less than a certain percentage of leaks.

“The leak (percentage) we’re supposed to be under is 15%, 15 or 10, we’re way above,” Shay said.

Shay said if a city is above that percentage, it’s supposed to solve the problem.

“This is us trying to solve the problem,” Shay said.

John Gable Park

The city council also approved unanimously to a bid for two aluminum bleachers at John Gable Park. The lone bid the city received, from BSN Sports LLC, totaled $18,201. The bid quote includes tax and delivery to the park, according to city documents.

The bleachers are specifically for the “fans of girls fast-pitch baseball,” according to Shay.

There was little discussion, but Steven Puvogel, council president, raised a question about safety.

“There are bleachers out there (at the park), but specifically these have the safety features, the rails, the backs, stuff like that?” Puvogel said. “And the ones out there definitely do not?”

Shay affirmed Puvogel’s question.

“We included these in the deferred maintenance grant because we have non-compliant bleachers and these will be paid for 100% by the grant funding,” Shay said about the RCO Deferred Maintenance Grant — which can only be spent on certain items — the city received earlier in 2024. “Tracy (Wood) looked all over to see if we could find a contract anywhere and we could not so we actually formally went to bid.”

“It’ll be a real nice addition to get those new bleachers,” Shay said Tuesday afternoon.

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