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Sitkans asked to conserve water next week

City officials say routine water tasks are OK on Monday and Wednesday. But longer-term things, like running a hose, or opening up a faucet in the harbor for a long period of time, should be avoided. (KCAW photo by Ed Ronco)

City officials say routine water tasks are OK on Monday and Wednesday. But longer-term things, like running a hose, or opening up a faucet in the harbor for a long period of time, should be avoided. (KCAW photo by Ed Ronco)

There is no shortage of water in Sitka. But residents are being asked to conserve water on two days next week, when city officials plan to interrupt the municipal water supply for a few hours each day.

The city’s main water line from Blue Lake will be shut down between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on March 11 and 13. The interruption is happening because of construction on the new powerhouse at the Blue Lake dam.

Contractors are building the new structure right on top of the existing water main.

“You don’t want to build a building on top of the water line, so this project is rerouting a section of the transmission main,” said Mark Buggins, environmental superintendent for the city. “To facilitate that, before that gets rerouted and have short shutdowns, and not affect people’s water in town too much, they’re installing some Ts and valves in our existing transmission main.”

In other words, the work next week will install the intersections where the new part of the pipeline will come in. And in order to do that, they have to turn off the line for a few hours each day. Buggins said the city will fill its water tanks before the shutdown. They hold about 3 million gallons total. Once 2 million gallons are spent, some residents at higher elevations might notice a drop in water pressure.

All residents, therefore, are urged to avoid using water in large amounts.

“It’s not like, don’t get a glass of water, or anything like that,” Buggins said. “It’s more like, don’t have your hose running when you don’t need to. If there’s a spigot in the harbor running, turn it off. Those kind of issues are the real water use, not a person’s daily habits.”

Besides low water pressure, some residents might notice their water appear cloudy for short periods of time. Buggins said if that’s the case, run the cold water until it clears up.

“It’s not dangerous, it’s the stuff that’s in our water all the time,” he said. “Mostly that glacial flour. It’s all been through the disinfection process, and a little bit just settles out in, especially, the larger diameter pipelines.”

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