As a Livermore water resources supervisor for more than 20 years, Randy Werner says that most leaks happen at 4 p.m. Friday.
Now, as of 4 p.m. last Friday, he has retired after 41 years working for the city. Well, sort of. Livermore's longest-working employee is going to stay on part-time until his replacement is hired sometime in early 2013.
"One thing I won't miss is the water leaks at 4 on Fridays," said Werner. "But I will miss all the people."
Werner began working for Livermore before there was a water resources department. He worked in the engineering department. In 1989 they consolidated all water-related services under one roof and named Werner the supervisor.
The Water Resources department is in charge of water, sewage and stormwater drains. They deliver the drinking water to more than 28,000 residents and treat the city's sewage at a water reclamation plant. Some of the treated sewage water is then delivered for landscaping irrigation at golf courses and other places. The rest is piped to the Bay.
The department also tests the water quality and watches for harmful contamination.
He said that in 41 years, the city has only had a few high readings on bacteria, which required calling in the state to help determine the cause. He said they determined it was because the home where they took the reading had been vacant for so long that the water in their pipes became stagnant.
Werner said he gets asked why Livermore doesn't fluoridate their water, and he points out that the city has voted against it twice. He said that eventually he thinks the city will fluoridate their water and that he supports such a move. Werner said he gets calls from dentists concerned that people aren't getting the tooth protection other cities get from fluoride in their drinking water.
Werner said the department is in the process of preparing for a smart meter monitoring system that would be able to give people real-time reports of their water usage.
"We'll be going to electronic meter reading in about four to five years. We are just changing out meters to ensure a high level of quality, and then we will install radio antennas on each box. Then we will put a radio tower up. Once that does happen we'll be able to see when consumption takes place.
"We did a pilot project on 20 meters. Out of 20 we put up, we found two leaks we didn't know about."
Werner said that families will be able to tell if there are leaks in their houses by seeing if their homes used water when no water was running.
"The toilet is biggest villain as far as water consumption," said Werner. Werner knows from personal experience as well as professional.
"We went on four-day vacation, and my toilet was stuck open. I ran up a huge bill. Now when I go out of town for more than one day I turn off all my toilets."
Werner lives with his wife in Livermore. He has lived here most of his life. His dad was an engineer at the Lab, and his mom was a teacher at Livermore High and Granada. Werner said he plans to keep busy restoring an old sail boat and gardening. He also is an Oakland Athletics season ticket holder.
Contact Patrick Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.