Local News

Update: Road re-opened, but more repairs ahead

A man watches as heavy equipment works on a water main break in the 700 block of Sawmill Creek Road on Friday afternoon. (KCAW photo by Ed Schoenfeld)

A man watches in the background as heavy equipment works on a water main break in the 700 block of Sawmill Creek Road on Friday afternoon. (KCAW photo by Ed Schoenfeld)

Update 4:13 p.m., 9/15/13:

Sawmill Creek Road re-opened to traffic on Saturday, after a nearly 24-hour closure from a water main break that occurred Friday afternoon.

Environmental Superintendent Mark Buggins says the main that ruptured was repaired, and a secondary leak has a temporary fix in place. Eventually, crews will need to go back in and make final repairs to the water main.

Residents in the immediate area of the water main rupture — the 700 block of Sawmill Creek Road — remain under a boil-water advisory. That advisory could be lifted after officials see the results of water quality tests on Monday morning. The city will advise residents when that happens.

Others in Sitka, outside the immediate area of the water main break, should have service as usual.

Update, 9:58 a.m., 9/14/13:

City public works director Michael Harmon says via Raven Radio’s Facebook page that if you have water service now, you don’t have to boil it. A boil water notice has been issued for the residents immediately near the water main break, in the 700 block of Sawmill Creek Road.

He also posted the following, earlier today:

Work will continue through Saturday. The main section of pipe that ruptured was replaced. However, when the water was turned back on and the line was pressurized, another leak was found in a different location. This area had to be worked on through the night and will continue today before the road can open.

Update, 8:34 p.m., 9/13/13:

Sitka Environmental Superintendent Mark Buggins said crews have found the leak, which resulted from a crack in a section of the 16-inch cast-iron water main.

Operators were beginning to cut the pipe around 8:30 p.m., and levels in the city’s water tanks are holding steady. Buggins says everyone should have water, except residents in the 700 block of Sawmill Creek Road, nearest to the leak.

He said the city hopes to have that section back on shortly after midnight tonight.

Update, 6:08 p.m., 9/13/13:

CoastAlaska’s Ed Schoenfeld reports from the scene that heavy equipment has arrived and is digging up rocks, gravel and water to reach the broken water main.

Sawmill Creek Road remains closed between Baranof and Jeff Davis streets. Sitka Fire Dept. volunteers and staff are on scene to assist with the road closure.

Update, 5:27 p.m., 9/13/13:

ROAD CLOSURE: Sawmill Creek Road between Baranof Street and Jeff Davis Street. City crews continue working on the water main break.

Original story, 4:46 p.m., 9/13/13:

Sitkans experienced a drop-off in water pressure this afternoon, after a water main break along a major line that supplies town.

City Environmental Superintendent Mark Buggins says the break happened in the 700 block of Sawmill Creek Road.

Police did not close the road, but traffic is slow in the area and drivers are asked to stay clear for the time being, if possible. The area is just past Jeff Davis Street as you head out of town.

Interim Municipal Administrator Jay Sweeney updates employees after they evacuated City Hall when fire alarms sounded Friday afternoon. A drop in water pressure in the sprinkler system caused the alarms to sound. People were allowed back inside shortly after 4 p.m. (KCAW photo by Ed Ronco)

Interim Municipal Administrator Jay Sweeney updates employees after they evacuated City Hall when fire alarms sounded Friday afternoon. A drop in water pressure in the sprinkler system caused the alarms to sound. People were allowed back inside shortly after 4 p.m. (KCAW photo by Ed Ronco)

Sitkans will likely notice lower water pressure tonight, especially those living at higher elevations. The city says water to all of town will be limited, and they’re asking residents to slow down on their water use and only do what’s necessary tonight. Buggins told us shortly after 4 p.m. that crews are going to keep working on the situation. They’re trying to get the damage fixed tonight, but Buggins said it was too early to tell how long it would take.

The water main break occurred around 3:30 p.m. And there were some immediate side effects to the water main break. A drop in water pressure in the sprinkler system at City Hall ended up setting off the fire alarms and causing the evacuation of the building. That happened around 4 p.m.

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