City urges water conservation

Gold Creek

Gold Creek in Last Chance Basin is Juneau’s primary source of drinking water. (Photo by Gillfoto/Wikimedia Commons)

Update, Monday, May 12, 2014:

Despite cooler weekend temperatures and some rain, Juneau residents should continue to conserve water, especially in the Mendenhall Valley.

Last week’s warm, dry weather has taxed the city’s sources of drinking water.

As KTOO reported on Friday, Public Works Director Kirk Duncan was urging water conservation, with Juneau’s reservoirs at 30 percent capacity.

As of Sunday evening, reservoirs were about 42 percent of capacity, but Salmon Creek has been off-line for a week, due to turbidity in the water.

Salmon Creek reservoir is Juneau’s secondary water source and is often unusable for drinking water this time of year. But the water level in Lemon Creek reservoir is also low, and Duncan says that could be a problem for the Mendenhall Valley. Lemon Creek is a 31-foot reservoir and was down to 8 feet on Sunday.

He says he gets nervous when reservoirs are that low.

“We’re at 42 percent, normally we’d be at 100 percent,” he says. “We’re  not asking anybody not to use their washing machine, or not do domestic water uses, but if you could water your lawn for 10 minutes instead of 20 that would be good. If you could wash your boat down in 5 minutes instead of a half hour, that would be good.  Just be aware of the water use.”

Juneau’s primary water source is Last Chance Basin, in the mountains above downtown. He says downtown and Douglas have plenty of domestic water and fire protection, but the basin has been “pumping for all it’s worth” in recent days.

Duncan says CBJ is not selling water to cruise ships.

The city has plans and funds to build a Salmon Creek filtration plant and expand Last Chance Basin, but both projects are two years away.

Original story, Friday, may 9, 2014:

The City and Borough of Juneau is asking residents to temporarily conserve water. The warm, dry weather is taxing the city’s sources of drinking water.

While there is water in storage, Juneau reservoirs are about 30 percent below normal capacity and Salmon Creek is completely offline, says Public Works Director Kirk Duncan.

The Salmon Creek reservoir is Juneau’s secondary water source.

“When the reservoir replenishes from all the rain and snowmelt it brings dirt into the reservoir, or turbidity in the water, so it’s been offline for a week,” Duncan says.

Normally that’s not a problem, but Lemon Creek reservoir also is down and Juneau is using a lot of water right now.

“Lemon Creek reservoir, which is a 31-foot reservoir, is down to 6 feet,” he says.

Juneau’s primary water source is Last Chance Basin, in the mountains above downtown.

The draw on Last Chance Basin late Friday afternoon was about 2,100 gallons a minute.

“It’s putting out almost 3-million gallons a day right now, so it’s pumping for all it’s worth.”

The city is not selling water to cruise ships, he says.

The city plans to build a Salmon Creek filtration plant and Last Chance Basin will be expanded in the future, but right now is the time to conserve.

Don’t wash cars or boats, water lawns and gardens until the rains come.  Duncan says the conservation measures will remain in place until the weather changes.

(Full disclosure: Kirk Duncan is a member of the KTOO Board of Directors.)