The City Council approved an ordinance that will help plug a 40,000-gallon-a-month water leak on private property off Lyman Avenue near Scheffel Avenue.
The council gave a property owner on Hillcrest Road permission to install a new 200-foot water line on city streets to resolve an issue that has been going on for several years.
"It started out at about 15,000 gallons a month, but is up to 40,000 now," said Laura Hodnett, spokeswoman for the Medford Water Commission.
Several years ago, the Water Commission did some testing and determined a water line leading from Lyman to a Hillcrest rental home was leaking.
The homeowner, an elderly woman, was told about the leak.
However, the water line from the city water meter on Lyman ran through a neighbor's yard on Scheffel, but no easement was ever recorded.
After letters and phone calls didn't bring about a resolution, the Water Commission threatened to shut off the meter, Hodnett said.
The homeowner had difficulty getting an easement from her neighbor because the neighbor didn't have much room around her house and feared having her small yard torn up.
As a result, the Hillcrest property owner requested that the city allow her to install a new private water line on city streets — something the city normally doesn't allow.
"This situation is more complicated than most," Hodnett said.
The Hillcrest property owner will be required to hire a plumber to install the new water line.
Hodnett said the Water Commission detects about 300 to 400 water leaks a year. The commission analyzes water consumption in the winter months, and if it notices a spike, sends out a technician for closer inspection.
"Many, many customers are very appreciative," Hodnett said.
The Water Commission has found large leaks going into apartment buildings and businesses.
In a given year, about 20 leaks rise to the level of sending out a letter threatening shutoff because the property owner failed to respond adequately.
Most of the time, the leak is repaired, Hodnett said.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.