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Officials try to trace missing water

Somewhere, somehow, about 40,000 gallons a month are disappearing at Sunny Skies Mobile Home Park.


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2000

SAN ANTONIO, Fla. -- City commissioners set themselves to sleuthing Tuesday as they tackled a mysterious water shortfall.

The meters on individual homes at the Sunny Skies Mobile Home Park seem accurate.

The city master meter leading into the park seems accurate.

But somewhere in between, Water Commissioner Heiskell Christmas said, 40,000 gallons of water are disappearing each month.

"The meters, they've been checked," Christmas said. "I don't know where the water is going."

Last year alone, the city lost an estimated 464,000 gallons, Christmas told the board in a meeting last month.

Christmas, seeking guidance from fellow commissioners, said he did not know who to bill for the missing water. At the April meeting, he said the value of the water would be hard to determine because water rates depend on usage.

Mayor Roy Pierce said he would oppose billing park owners, unless it can be proved the owners were responsible.

Commissioners agreed the water could be lost through a series of small leaks -- too small to show water bubbling to the surface -- or it could be lost to a tap that has simply gone unnoticed, or it could be purposely stolen.

Christmas agreed to complete further study, with help from outside agencies more practiced in detecting leaks, and report back to the panel. He said a full investigation could take more than a month.

In other business Tuesday:

Commissioners elected Pierce to his sixth consecutive one-year term as mayor. In San Antonio's form of government, the five-member board selects a mayor from its own ranks.

Christmas nominated Commissioner Sharon Madden to the post and was the lone vote against Pierce. He said later he has nothing against the mayor, he just thought the city could be better served by having someone else learn the duties of mayor while an experienced former mayor is still on the board to assist.

Commissioners also named Commissioner Dennis Phillips vice mayor with a 4-1 vote. Phillips was the lone dissenter, voting against himself, but he accepted the position with a smile.

Commissioners Christmas and Wendi Edwards also took the oath of office.

Representatives from TECO Peoples Gas told the panel they would be through installing new natural gas lines in the region by the end of next month. The lines are being installed to serve Saint Leo University and to connect a loop with State Road 54 lines and Dade City lines.

Hugh MacFarlane, regional operations manager for the gas company, said the company would agree to meet individually with San Antonio homeowners interested in connecting to a gas line.

Madden said last month's area cleanup was a success, with the help of dozens of volunteers, including San Antonio Boy Scout Troop 311. She was disappointed volunteers collected so many empty bottles around the downtown park, an area where glass bottles are forbidden.

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