Dubuque city discovers draining problem - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque city discovers draining problem


One OF Eastern Iowa's most "green" cities has discovered a draining problem at city hall. During a sustainability study in Dubuque officials discovered more than 12 million gallons of water going to waste at City Hall. It's a part of their heating and cooling system, essentially water runs through the pipes in the building. But once it cycles through once, it goes down the drain. Now city leaders want to put a plug on it.

You can't hear it from outside. And you can't hear it from upstairs. But head down the basement of Dubuque City Hall, into a closet sink, and you'll hear the sound of water flowing from a PVC pipe.

"It's an opportunity for the city to really be a leader," Sustainability Coordinator Cori Burbach said.

It's an opportunity to continue to lead the way in sustainability. After an audit discovered that this steady flow of water draining from PVC pipes was a big waste.

"So that water comes in to cool the building and then unfortunately it's flushed down a janitors drain. Which was really an eye opener," Burbach said. "So they looked at it and found that really was inefficient for us to be using treated water for heating and cooling of our building."

An Iowa State University Graduate student discovered that the historic building uses nearly 12 million gallons of water per year; most of the water cools and heats the building.

"One of the key things that they found was that we were using a pretty old heating and cooling system in town. Just like a lot of other building," Burbach said.

Now city leaders are going with the flow, following a process they've challenged other businesses to take too.

"The city is working very hard with the community to help them make these changes but we're also taking a look at, we have a lot of buildings that we maintain, and so we're looking at the same thing everybody else is and trying to make those improvements," Burbach said.

Improvements that will keep water and money from going down the drain. If city hall was metered for it's water use it would cost more than $21,000. The sewer fee would be more than $42,000, totaling $63,000 a year. They hope to have a new system in place very soon.

The city council has already given city hall officials permission to research alternatives. They hope to model a solution off the Historic Federal Building, which has a system that recalculates water into a tank and reuses it to heat and cool.

Crews also discovered a faulty valve in City Hall, once that is replaced they expect to save 200,000 gallons a month.

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