The City of Dover lost approximately 1 million gallons of water in a massive leak that occurred on Christmas Day, according to the city.

In a press release, the city said they found the leak within a matter of hours after it went undetected until about 5:30 p.m. when a low-tank alarm sounded at the Garrison Hill water tank, which had fallen below 22 feet.

The water tower, according to the city, is designed for both water customers and fire suppression needs. It is the job of Dover Community Services to ensure at least 16 feet of water remains in the tank for a large fire event, such as a mill fire.

Eventually, Dover Community Services Director John Storer was alerted to the issue and quickly learned the severity of the issue. More water was leaking out of the system than was being pumped in from city wells. Bill Boulanger, the faction's deputy director, was called in along with other employees in a Christmas night search for the leak.

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“The last thing you want to do is dewater your city,” Storer said in the press release. “Public health, sanitation and fire suppression all require an adequate supply of water.”

Storer reportedly focused his efforts on determining the amount of water leaking per minute in an attempt to figure out the size of pipe likely to be the culprit. This helped narrow down the search, and Storer eventually estimated the leak was releasing about 1,000 to 1,500 gallons of water per minute.

More work by Boulanger determined the leak was in the city's southern half, but nightfall and heavy rains on Christmas Day continued to complicate things. More than 60 people had called dispatch to complain about low water pressure.

“It was like trying to find a specific needle in a stack of needles,” Storer said.

The leak was eventually revealed to be coming from a casing pipe about 60 feet from Spaulding Turnpike, the city said. Water was shut off running to the pipe in a measure that did not affect residents, according to the release.

“It was a little stressful in the operation center for a bit," Boulanger said. "Once we found the leak, I was pretty happy,” Boulanger said. “I really appreciate the guys that came in on Christmas Day to get this taken care of.”

Added Storer: “It was impressive to see Bill’s response during this crisis. His knowledge of our water distribution system is unmatched.”

Storer said the city is still investigating why the leak occurred. The failed pipe, which was allegedly installed by a contractor, is under warranty, the release said.

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