Belton school officials are crediting a bookkeeper for catching a water leak in one of the district’s school buildings this summer.
“We had an ice machine down at Yeokum, which was our former middle school,” said Bob Poisal, assistant superintendent of finance. “It was water-cooled, and the control valve broke on it.”
Poisal said he can’t calculate how much the district dished out for extra water usage, but he said the leak went on for roughly six months to a year.
“Normally (with) a water leak, the water will show up somewhere in the ground,” Poisal said. “Because it was an ice machine, it went straight down the drain.”
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All the other ice machines in the district are fan-cooled, Poisal said.
Poisal said that students had been in the school throughout the year and that fields were watered through the building’s water source, so officials didn’t notice the increased water usage until Yeokum closed this summer.
The building is still closed temporarily now that middle school students have moved to the former high school building. Sophomores, juniors and seniors now occupy the district’s new high school near the freshman center.
“(The building) was constantly in use so it’s one of those things that really wasn’t picked up on too early, but once we got kids out of there, we saw that the water bill didn’t go down any,” Poisal said. “Credit to our accounts payable person who noticed that … and didn’t just keep paying the bill.”
Poisal said the district called to check if there was a leak on the city’s end.
“They made an inquiry with the city, and (we) went out and helped them investigate why that bill was high,” said Belton Public Works Director Jeff Fischer.
Poisal said the meters were found to be OK, so the school started to shut down equipment.
“Our maintenance staff were able to narrow it down to the water cooler,” Poisal said. “It was really a tough thing to find because there wasn’t a trace of water.”
It’s hard to know much the leak cost the district, Poisal said, because city rates have changed.
Despite the leak, Poisal said, the district always tries to conserve on utilities.
“It’s a place we can always save money,” he said. “We are really trying to be cost-effective as we can and be good stewards of community tax dollars without hurting the classroom budget.”