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FARMERS BRANCH Despite water restrictions in Farmers Branch, the city has left one fire hydrant open for four months, flushing away 18 million gallons of water.

'That, definitely, is a waste of water,' said city resident Fernando Hererra.

More than 1.5 percent of all the potable water in Farmers Branch comes out the hydrant at the Lago Vista development... and goes down into the sewer.

'It sounds like a lot, but it's really a drop in the bucket,' said city engineer Marc Bentley.

Farmers Branch says, by law, all sanitary drinking water must contain a minimum amount of chlorine needed to kill disease-causing pathogens. But chlorine's potency can diminish if water sits too long in pipes.

Lago Vista is in a part of town built up with major underground water infrastructure, but the area is still under-developed.

Bentley said that's why the water is getting stale, and the chlorine's power to protect the water supply is weakening.

And that's why the system must be flushed out.

'The flushings happen all the time,' Bentley said. 'We do them on dead-end lines all the time. We have to flush them to maintain that chlorine residual.'

Plano recently offered residents a water holiday to flush out a stale supply. But a Farmers Branch spokesman said Lago Vista's location is not conducive to that type of solution. And if you were going to suggest trucking the surplus water elsewhere, we've been told that solution is simply not cost effective.

So, for now, 18 million gallons of water go down the drain, while citizens across Farmers Branch are cutting back to comply with water restrictions.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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