JUNEAU (AP) -- Wells running dry in Juneau?
Dixie Hood believed she'd never run out of water in Juneau, but it's happened. Hood is a victim of Juneau's driest spring on record that has left her well pump on Back Loop Road sucking air.
''It's only happened once before in 22 years,'' Hood said. ''I was thinking I might have to do a rain dance or something. I need rain.''
Most residents have plenty of water because there's no shortage in wells and a reservoir that supply the city water system. But Hood is feeling the impact of a spring the National Weather Service said is Juneau's driest in recorded history.
Between March 3 and April 24, Juneau received 0.94 inches of rain, a record low for a 53-day period any time of year. The next lowest is 2.12 inches in 1989.
''That was over 2 inches and we haven't even gotten an inch,'' said meteorologist Laura Furgione.
Juneau has received just 0.47 inches of rain this month -- 2.3 inches below normal. Because January and February were wet, the year-to-date rainfall, 10.7 inches, is not a record low. The year-to-date average is about 13 inches.
Hood said she is getting water from a neighbor until it rains. Her well is 25 feet deep, which is normally more than adequate for an unlimited supply of water.
Larry Schultz at Larry's Quality Heating and Plumbing said wells such as Hood's were common 20 years ago in the Mendenhall Valley. In the mid-1980s the city extended water service throughout the valley and these days very few people use wells.
Grant Ritter, Juneau's water operations and maintenance supervisor, said the Mendenhall Valley aquifer can be capricious.
''Even back when a lot of the valley was on wells, there'd be a freeze and wells would go dry and the water would never come back,'' he said.
The weather also has affected the level of water in lakes supplying hydroelectric power to Juneau. Since spring has been colder than average, precipitation has fallen as snow at the higher elevations, said Gayle Wood, office manager at Alaska Electric Light and Power.
''We need warm rain falling to create snowmelting conditions and runoff to bring the lake levels up,'' she said. ''We have a good snow pack. We need inflows, give us inflows.''
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