Lucas Oil Stadium's water bills skyrocket

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Mary Milz/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Pipe problems at Lucas Oil Stadium are costing the city tens of thousand of dollars in increased water bills alone.

Those newly-uncovered expenses are on top of the estimated $2 million in repairs needed at the two-and-a-half-year-old building. It's a story Eyewitness News broke Monday.

Now comes word that the stadium is running millions of gallons of water each month - far more than ever before - as a temporary fix to keep the water safe.

While Stadium Director John Klipsch was not available for comment Tuesday, in an interview Monday he said, "The rust and corrosion is in the galvanized pipes, those are the bigger pipes that feed the water system into the stadium."

He said those pipes - about five to six percent of all water pipes in the stadium - must be replaced.

In the meantime, the water's been running non-stop in the stadium since the problem was discovered last summer. It's running to flush out the pipes.

Eyewitness News obtained copies of the stadium's water bills since it began being charged in June 2008. Those bills averaged $3,000-$4,000 a month until last fall when they skyrocketed.

In September 2009, the water bill was $6,787 - the highest it had ever been, but dropped in subsequent months. A year later, in September 2010, the water bill jumped to $23,618 (a 240-percent increase from September 2009) and continued to run in the mid-to-high teens through February 2011 (the last bill available.)

Water usage also shot up. Most months since the stadium opened it was no more than 1.5 million gallons a month. In September 2009, water usage hit a high of 2.5 million gallons, then dropped again. In September 2010, the stadium used just under 14 million gallons of water

That's enough to fill the IUPUI Natatorium pool 14 times or the Indianapolis Zoo's dolphin pool nearly 13 times or every single one of Indy Parks 22 outdoor pools three times.

The stadium officially opened just over two and a half years ago and yet it's used nearly 62 million gallons of water in just the last six months. That accounts for 71% of all water used since June 2008.

Monday Klipsch said the stadium would remain open to employees while repairs were made to the pipes. Five events scheduled at Lucasl Oil Stadium were moved to other venues.

"We're monitoring the water and keeping the health department in the loop and the water is perfectly safe to drink," said Klipsch.

A spokesperson with the Marion County Health Department agreed, saying they were "not aware of any issues." He also said they didn't advise stadium officials on how to keep the water safe.

Doing so hasn't been cheap. The stadium's water bills have totaled $100,000 since September. That compares to the water bills from June 2008 through August 2010 which totaled $88,700.

The Capitol Improvement Board runs Lucas Oil Stadium. When asked about the additional costs, CIB President Ann Lathrop said while they were paying the water bills up front, the stadium authority would reimburse them. She referred all other questions to Klipsch.

Monday Klipsch told Eyewitness News they were seeking reimbursement from the insurance and bond companies representing the original contractor who installed the pipe. That contractor has since filed for bankruptcy.

The pipe repairs are scheduled to be finished by July. The answer to how long the water will continue running non-stop in the stadium was not readily available.