Water restored to Valley

Some hotels, businesses without water for 8 to 9 hours

Posted: Wednesday, August 08, 2001

Workers repaired a damaged water line near Professional Plaza on Tuesday afternoon that reduced or killed water pressure for many Mendenhall Valley residents.

Water service was back to normal by about 7 p.m., city officials said.

The break was caused by a failed valve that was exposed as workers lowered a water line near Professional Plaza at about 11 a.m., according to state Department of Transportation project engineer Thad Hopper. No one was hurt, he said.

"The line has been in there for quite a while and we think that corrosion contributed to the failure of the restraint. It was nothing that the contractor did. It was just one of those things," he said.

Water poured out of the 12-inch line into Duck Creek for about half an hour before workers were able to cap the break, Hopper said.

Mel Perkins, general manager and owner of Best Western Country Lane Inn and Grandma's Feather Bed, said he went across the street to look at the broken line. It was a "pretty major gush," he said.

"It was kind of interesting with a full hotel without water for between eight and nine hours," he said.

Grandma's Feather Bed had murky water back by 4 p.m. The Best Western had water back by 7:30 p.m., he said. Most guests were fairly resilient, Perkins said.

"It was a disruption to our housekeeping schedule. We had to make some pretty late hours cleaning rooms so they were ready for the late flights," he said.

The Travelodge Hotel across the street lost water for the bulk of the afternoon and part of Tuesday evening, general manager Susan Bowman said. Things were mostly back to normal at 7:30 p.m. although the water is brown today, she said. Bowman shut down the Mi Casa Restaurant and the Travelodge Lounge at about 5:30 p.m. and sent laundry room workers home.

"It was an inconvenience but we dealt with it," she said.

The city isn't sure exactly how many people were affected by the damaged line, but it caused a drop in water pressure for businesses and homes from Dredge Lake to the airport, city Water Utility Superintendent Dean Nordenson said. Some people lost water completely during the repairs, he said.

Water pressure started to come back by 1 p.m. and everything in the area was back to normal by 7 p.m., Nordenson said. The city assisted with repairs and parts Tuesday, but isn't directly involved with the construction work in the area, he said.

The state is upgrading and widening Glacier Highway from Egan Drive to Mendenhall Loop Road. It is replacing two culverts in the area at the request of the Duck Creek Advisory Group, according to DOT project environmental coordinator Kris Benson. Because the culvert near Professional Plaza was lowered 1 1/2 feet, the contractors needed to lower the water line as well, she said.

Gina Gonzales, a waitress at the Valley Restaurant across the street from the break, said the business lost its water right before the noon rush hour. The water came back at low pressure after about half an hour, she said, and the restaurant was able to serve lunch.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.

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