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City of Little Falls missing nearly 400 million gallons of water

By ANNA MEILER

LITTLE FALLS, N.Y. (WKTV) -- The City of Little Falls treated and distributed over 700 million gallons of water in 2011, but only 330 million gallons were delivered or used, according to a state audit released Wednesday.

So, what happened to nearly 400 million gallons of water in the City of Little Falls?

"Some of it may be going in the ground. Some of it may be not captured by meters. We don't really know. That's why we're out trying to fix as many leaks as we can," said Daniel Benett, chief water treatment plant operator.

The problem is the taxpayers pay for the water to be treated, but there is no returned revenue. The unaccounted for water cost the city around $300,000 in 2011 and now the taxpayers will have to pay more.

"We'll have to probably raise water rates. We have no other choice. It's something that we've been trying to deal with for the last three years. We do sell timber to try to make that money back, but we can't keep doing that every year either. Cutting timber is not the answer," said the city's mayor, Robert Peters.

City officials blame the 120-year-old water system, but replacing it would cost about a million dollars per mile. So their plan is to continue fixing leaks as they pop up.

"The labor is the smallest cost 'cause the guys have to be here to work anyhow," said Benett.

"We are losing money, but if we were sitting back and not doing anything then I could understand why people would get upset, but we've done and we repair as many as we can and we will continue to do that," said Peters.

There are about 40 miles of road in the City of Little Falls, so replacing the entire system would cost a minimum of $40 million, which city officials say just isn't possible.

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