JUNEAU — Two million gallons of water went missing recently.

According to Juneau Water/Wastewater Superintendent Tim Hayden, a water line beneath West North Street, near the intersection with North Fairfield Avenue, sprang a leak about two weeks ago and by the time it was repaired, some 2 million gallons of water had disappeared into the ground.

Hayden reported the loss Monday at the monthly meeting of the Juneau Utility Commission. He noted line leaks often send some water to the surface, betraying their location.

“This line is surrounded by all this good gravel, so there were no surface signs,” Hayden said.

He estimated about 150,000 gallons of water leaked from the broken pipe each day for 12 days, while he and his crew searched for the source.

He said he initially noticed a peculiar spike in well output and checked with Sensient Industries, on Juneau’s east side, to see whether they had turned to the city’s water service to supplement or replace water from its private well.

When Sensient answered it had not, Hayden said he employed a “leak locator,” through which leaking water can be heard when the device is attached to a fire hydrant.

Starting on Juneau’s east side, across town from the broken pipe, Hayden said he and his crew listened and listened without success. Eventually, Hayden said he noticed a suspect sound coming through a hydrant near the Juneau Public Library, about a block from the site of the breach, and closed in from there to excavate and repair the leak.

In other news, budget deficits are anticipated for the sewer and water utilities in 2018, which could lead to rate increases.

Estimates in the preliminary budget indicate a 2018 sewer utility cash deficit of $155,400 and a 2018 water utility cash deficit of $152,675. Those figures are derived from an estimated $108,419 shortfall in sewer-utility revenue and proposed capital expenditures of $298,500 by the sewer utility and $381,500 by the water utility.

Juneau Mayor Dan Wegener suggested that some capital expenditures planned by the utilities may have to be trimmed or put on hold.

Capital projects for the water and wastewater utilities include:

  • $100,000 to increase storage at the wastewater treatment plant.
  • $130,000 for improvements to the station that meters output from Sensient Industries.
  • $230,000 for the utility portion of a Depot Street reconstruction project.