The Skidmore water tower stands behind a leafless tree in Skidmore, Missouri. Skidmore was billed for a loss of 400,000 gallons of water for September, which was caused by leaks in the pipes.

Over the last two weeks Skidmore, a small town west of Maryville, was put under two boil advisories, which is only the latest in the town’s water troubles. Last month the town had been charged for over 700,000 gallons of water by the Public Water Supply District No. 1 of Nodaway County for the month of September.

 Skidmore usually is billed for roughly 300,000 gallons per month, meaning that the city had been billed for an additional 400,000 gallons of water that could not be accounted for.

The loss of water meant that there was a leak somewhere. Maintenance operator Cassie Partridge said that Skidmore gets its water from Maryville, which is brought to the small town through a series of pipes. The Missouri Rural Water Association was in Skidmore early in the month to locate the costly leaks. Skidmore City Clerk Meagan Morrow said “two substantial leaks” were found within city limits.

The Missouri Rural Water Association and White Cloud Engineering and Construction helped with finding and fixing the two leaks. The first leak in the town’s system of pipes was reported and located Oct. 31. Skidmore was put under a boil advisory the next day due to the low pressure due to the leaks, which can lead to contamination. The boil advisory was lifted Nov. 4 as the first leak was patched up. Another leak was found Nov. 5 and another boil advisory was put in place until Nov. 8. The boil advisories were also put in place due to the low water pressure in the town’s water tower, which was caused by the leaks.

“We’ve had a few repairs made to some old pipes and spouts, and looking for leaks, we found a very long list of neglected maintenance that we need to try and correct over the next year or so as we can,” Morrow said.

Morrow said the underground pipes and the mechanics by the valve have been sitting underwater for over 20 years, which should never have happened for the old pipes, originally installed in the 1950s, and only some were replaced 15 years ago. Morrow said proper checks and balances within the town’s government would prevent this, and that routine maintenance has not been upheld.

“The city has a lot of turnover in its employees and board members, so things don’t get passed down from person to person, they are forgotten and set aside,” Morrow said. “When an employee or board member doesn’t stick around longer than a couple of months, most of the tasks are just gonna get handed down, and the next guys are gonna get that problem.”

Morrow said there isn’t a likely solution to turnover, as it is something that the town’s government has been dealing with for a long time. Morrow said they should instead come up with a better system to make sure that the city’s jobs get done, no matter who is currently in charge. With something like this in place, any costly repairs will have to financed, which means the city will pay more attention to yearly maintenance, preventing long-term repairs.

The city is about to begin its heavy repairs to the pipe systems with White Cloud Engineering and could start as soon as next week, provided the ground doesn’t freeze up.

“The water tower fills very quickly, so pressure is good, and we have our new meters installed, which is giving us more accurate rates,” Morrow said. “So I believe we are on the uphill climb of our water issue.”

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