Freeze halts water supply for 85 trailer homes

Sewer troubles pose problems in Douglas

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2002

A frozen spring has deprived residents of a Lemon Creek trailer park of water. Meanwhile, on Douglas Island, Perseverance Theatre had to cancel a performance of "On the Razzle" due to a sewage line backup.

A natural spring in the Lemon Creek area provides water for Churchill Trailer Park, said resident Mike Forrest, who has lived there for 2 1/2 years. The spring also supplies the bottled-water company Alaska Pure Mountain Spring Water.

The trailer park contains 85 mobile homes, all of which are occupied, said Molly Williams, property manager.

"It's just a battle against the weather," Williams said. "This is just a situation where the spring water has frozen up. Our maintenance guy is working on it."

Forrest said the freeze-up deprived him of nearly all water since about 5 p.m. Sunday. A trickle became available about 6 a.m. today.

"We occasionally run out of water for several hours in the summer," Forrest said. "This is the first time during the winter." Forrest lives with his son and estimates there are at least two people in every trailer in the park.

Churchill Trailer Park usually has the capability of switching to city water when the spring is not furnishing a supply, but city water pipes are also frozen, Williams said.

The official low for the Mendenhall Valley on Sunday morning was minus 12 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, which does not take readings for Lemon Creek per se. The official low at the Juneau Airport was zero, but in Lemon Creek Valley, temperatures are often colder.

Ernie Mueller, city public works director, said the trailer park is more than 25 years old, and an anomaly. "All the other trailer parks are either on wells or on city water now," Mueller said.

He understood that the frozen pipes are within the park, between the water source and the trailer park, "so even if they can hook up to city water, it won't do them any good."

Alaska Pure Mountain Spring Water staff could not be reached for comment about the freeze-up's impacts on operations.

In downtown Douglas, Perseverance Theatre had to cancel its 6 p.m. Sunday performance of the play "On the Razzle" because of a sewage backup into the basement of the theater at 914 Third St.

Mueller said sewer lines were plugged, not frozen.

"A lot of times this is caused by debris or grease, but here a deteriorating sewer line is compounding the problem," he said. Third Street has a 6-inch sewer line, which should be 8 inches for best flow, he said.

Perseverance was not the only structure affected. A nearby residence had a clean-out cap pop off, and sewage ran into a private yard. The flow of sewage has been stopped for the time being, Mueller said.

A permanent fix will mean first getting a remote television camera into the line to survey it. This can be done if the weather warms up a bit. Thereafter, a portion of the line may need to be replaced, he said.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at achandonnet@juneauempire.

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