Update: fire warning canceled, city reiterates water conservation request

Salmon Creek water level is close to normal, but turbidity is high and the reservoir can't be used for drinking water at this time. (Photo courtesy Scott Willis)

Salmon Creek water level is close to normal, but turbidity is high and the reservoir can’t be used for drinking water at this time. (Photo courtesy Scott Willis)

Update, Sunday, May 18:

The National Weather Service has canceled its Red Flag Warning for fire danger in the area, but the city is still asking residents to conserve water while Salmon Creek reservoir remains offline.

Meanwhile, city landscape crews will start planting flowers Monday in the Egan Drive median, at the airport, city docks and Centennial Hall, as well hanging flower baskets in downtown.

But Parks superintendent George Schaff says water for those plants will not come from the city water supply.

“What we’re going to be doing is actually drawing water from Gold Creek below the city well field and filling tanks in our trucks from the creek instead of from the municipal water supply,” Schaff says.

The temperature in Juneau on Saturday was 72 degrees.  The normal high for May 17 is 57 degrees. The last time it was 72 degrees in Juneau on May 17 was 1945.

Original story, Friday, May 16:

With warm weather expected this weekend, Juneau residents should continue to conserve water and be careful when conducting open burns.

Capital City Fire/Rescue is not implementing a burn ban, according to a Friday afternoon press release. But with the National Weather Service issuing a red flag warning, the fire department urged caution when it comes to fire safety. A warning means severe fire conditions are imminent in the area.

Meanwhile, the city’s water supply remains low. Salmon Creek, Juneau’s secondary water source, is offline due to turbidity, so it can’t be used for drinking water.

While capacity in Juneau’s seven reservoirs is up to 46 percent, CBJ Public Works Director Kirk Duncan says it’s wise to reduce water use until Salmon Creek is again part of the CBJ system. That could be a couple weeks, he says.

“When we talk about 46 percent, Crow Hill and West Juneau are basically totally full as is Lena reservoir. But East Valley and Lemon Creek are lower than 46 percent and they’re the high use. So if we had a fire out in the Valley it would have a major impact on our water source,” Duncan says.

The city has about 4.6 million gallons of water on hand.

“Just to put that into perspective, we use about 3.2 million gallons a day. We have used up to 5.2 million gallons a day, when residents are using water intensely,” he says.

Juneau does not have a water crisis, but Duncan says it could become one.

He suggests conserving by reducing the time watering lawns, or washing boats and cars. Wait to have that car wash fundraiser until Salmon Creek is again producing drinking water, he says.

Check back for updates.

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