The water main running beneath Shotgun Alley was repaired by city crews today (01-06-17). A resident reporting the water leak last night. The pipe was installed in 1980 and is made of ductile iron. (Photo courtesy of Shilo Williams)

Two serious water breaks occurred in Sitka in the past 24 hours.

The first took place at the Rocky Gutierrez Airport. Staff discovered a small crack on the incoming water main, fifteen feet below the ground.

Jeremy Woodrow, spokesperson for the Department of Transportation, said the cause was likely due to the age of the pipe, not the cold weather.  “It was noticed because there hasn’t been any rain for quite some time and there hasn’t been any water seeping from the ground. So that was brought to the airport manager’s attention on Wednesday (01-04-17). We took quick action,” Woodrow said.

Excavators broke apart the pavement to located the water main break and repaired with with a band. (Photo courtesy of Shilo Williams)

Water was temporarily shut off. Portable toilets were brought in for airport customers. The Nugget restaurant remains shut down for the day. The state DoT then contracted with the city and local company Coast Excavation to access the pipe and put a clamp on it to keep water inside. Some work remains to be done, but for the most part, the pipe is fixed – for now.

KCAW: At what point are you going to replace the pipe and what’s the cost associated with that?

Woodrow: Don’t know the costs associated with replacing the entire pipe. Obviously right now it’s cheaper to do these small fixes when needed.

Corrosion was to blame for a water line break in town. On Thursday night (01-05-17), the water main running down Shotgun Alley broke. City crews mobilized heavy equipment and covered its holes with a repair band this morning  (01-06-17). They have also completed backfilling of the excavation site. Shilo Williams, the deputy environmental superintendent, says the pipe itself was installed in 1980 and is made of ductile iron.

Aging infrastructure is also responsible for several short power outages this year and the closure of the Green Lake Dam. In an e-mail this morning, City Administrator Mark Gorman said that the dam progress is underway and could be completed today.