When meter readers from Maumelle Water Management read Maumelle High School’s water meters last month they couldn’t believe their eyes.

Barry Heller, MWM general manager, said the meter reader called to tell him about the reading because it showed that the school had used 4 million gallons of water in one month’s landscaping.

Heller said the utility then called the high school’s maintenance supervisor to tell him.

The brand new high school has 70 different sprinkling zones, so it uses a lot of water — but not that much, he said.

Utilization the previous month was about a million gallons.

It didn’t take long before the school found the leak in the new construction, just completed last year by Baldwin Shell Construction Company, Heller said.

"We are discussing warranty issues with the construction manager and they are fixing the leaks," Derek Scott, chief operating officer for the Pulaski County Special School District, said in response to a question about whether Baldwin Shell would repair the leak for free. "Most often when we have a leak or breakage the municipality credits the district the difference of normal use. At a minimum, we will pay for our normal use."

The $82 million school is less than a year old.

Heller said he would listen to district officials about the wasted water and try to reach an agreement, but "when you drive down the street and see two inches of water running down the road, that should be an indication there might be an issue somewhere."

Some folks said the water was all used on the new football field, but it is an artificial turf where watering is not necessary.

Although the excessive usage of water by the high school was bad, it couldn’t have come at a worse time for Maumelle Water Management as well capacity was diminished by production issues, Heller said.

So while Maumelle residents didn’t have water to use on their lawns and gardens because of restricted use rules in effect, Maumelle High School was wasting water through a leak no one knew about.

Heller said in his long career in water management he’s seen some big water bills, but nothing like the $24,000 bill the school got.