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As Detroit struggles for resources, city water pours down the drain from ravaged pipes

  • In a photo from May 16, 2013 at Crosman School in Detroit, water pools on the warped tile of what was once a basketball court. No one knows how long the water has flowed through the moldy bowels of the massive building a few miles north of downtown, but Crosman has been closed since 2007. It’s not the only empty structure where city water steadily fills dark basements or runs into the gutter, wasting money and creating safety hazards. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

    In a photo from May 16, 2013 at Crosman School in Detroit, water pools on the warped tile of what was once a basketball court. No one knows how long the water has flowed through the moldy bowels of the massive building a few miles north of downtown, but Crosman has been closed since 2007. It’s not the only empty structure where city water steadily fills dark basements or runs into the gutter, wasting money and creating safety hazards. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)  (The Associated Press)

  • In a Nov. 14, 2013 photo, Carl King, left, watches as Kem Delaney prepares to shut off the water to an abandoned home in Detroit. As Detroit goes through the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, the city’s porous water system illustrates how some of its resources are still draining away even as it struggles to stabilize its finances and provide basic services. More than 30,000 buildings stand vacant in neighborhoods hollowed out by Detroit’s long population decline, vulnerable to metal scavengers who rip out pipes, leaving the water to flow. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

    In a Nov. 14, 2013 photo, Carl King, left, watches as Kem Delaney prepares to shut off the water to an abandoned home in Detroit. As Detroit goes through the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, the city’s porous water system illustrates how some of its resources are still draining away even as it struggles to stabilize its finances and provide basic services. More than 30,000 buildings stand vacant in neighborhoods hollowed out by Detroit’s long population decline, vulnerable to metal scavengers who rip out pipes, leaving the water to flow. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)  (The Associated Press)

  • In a photo from May 16, 2013 at Crosman School in Detroit, water spews from a broken pipe, cascading down stairs before pooling on the warped tile of what was once a basketball court. No one knows how long the water has flowed through the moldy bowels of the massive building a few miles north of downtown, but Crosman has been closed since 2007. It’s not the only empty structure where city water steadily fills dark basements or runs into the gutter, wasting money and creating safety hazards. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

    In a photo from May 16, 2013 at Crosman School in Detroit, water spews from a broken pipe, cascading down stairs before pooling on the warped tile of what was once a basketball court. No one knows how long the water has flowed through the moldy bowels of the massive building a few miles north of downtown, but Crosman has been closed since 2007. It’s not the only empty structure where city water steadily fills dark basements or runs into the gutter, wasting money and creating safety hazards. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)  (The Associated Press)

In an empty house on Chalmers Street in Detroit, a pulse of water spews every few seconds from a vandalized pipe.

It's one of many leaks wasting water and money in a bankrupt city that struggles to provide basic services to its 700,000 residents.

With more than 30,000 vacant structures spread across Detroit, officials have no way of tracking such leaks. Many are caused by aging pipes that burst or metal thieves who've ripped them out, leaving the water to flow — sometimes for years.

Officials say they have no idea how much is being lost or retreated as it drains back into the system.

Crews have whittled the backlog of reported leaks from about 350 to a couple dozen. But those are only the leaks they know about.