A head-scratcher over why water usage appeared to triple last year at the Red Bank Middle School appears to have been solved, the Asbury Park Press reports today.

The problem wasn’t leaks or kids suddenly turned ambitious about hygiene. It was a faulty water meter.

From the story:

“We put in a new meter, which solved a big portion of the problem,” Peter Noble, Board of Education vice president, said at Tuesday’s board meeting.

In December, school officials said water use tripled from the normal 500 gallons a day between July and October. But the source eluded school officials and other experts, from plumbers to the borough Public Works Department, none of whom could find a leak.

Officials looked for obvious sources — flooding, leaking pipes, boiler problems, irrigation system malfunctions — but they came up dry.

“We came up with a lot of little leaks, which contributed, but the big thing was the meter,” Noble said. “Compared to other middle schools, (now) our usage is down.”

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