Piedad water supply rivals Lily Lake
December 22, 2022
The Piedad springs are now rivaling Lily Lake as the town’s main public drinking water source.
Townsite residents used more water from the Piedad aquifer the past two years than they have any other time on record, according to Haines Borough Water and Sewer Department supervisor Dennis Durr.
About 45% of the borough’s public water supply came from Piedad in 2021 and 2022, up from 25% in 2017 through 2020, Durr said.
Since December 2019, the first month that Piedad production overtook Lily Lake, the two sources have gone back and forth month to month as the borough’s main supply. Borough customers used 4.7 million gallons from Piedad and 4.6 million from Lily Lake in November, Durr said.
“We’re hoping we can keep chipping away at it and keep bringing that number up,” Durr said.
Durr considers Piedad a better water source because it requires less treatment, equipment and labor and costs less to produce. And, since it comes straight from the ground, Piedad water is higher quality, Durr added.
“Per thousand gallons, it’s a much more efficient water source (than Lily Lake),” he said. The uptick in volume from Piedad occurred after workers tapped a third spring there over the summer. Durr said supply has averaged about 4 million gallons of Piedad water a month this year.
The Piedad Springs Water Treatment Plant was built in 2016 and produced an average of 1.5 million gallons a month that year, while Lily Lake averaged 8 million, Durr said.
Borough staff added a second spring box along with 500 feet of new pipes in 2020 and a third box this past summer, which increased production. But not until this year’s development had the scale almost balanced between the townsite’s two main water sources. Durr said for the first time Piedad’s production never dropped below three millions gallons a month in 2022.
Most households and businesses with public utilities get a mix of the two water supplies, although the Cathedral View and Piedad neighborhoods are fed only by Piedad and occasionally Crystal Cathedral wells — the borough’s backup source, near the golf course.
As for total consumption, Durr said residents and businesses will have used more than 100 million gallons this year, well above the past two years, when consumption hit lows in recent history. “We really got the flows down in 2019,” Durr said. “Then in 2020, we got down to 91 million gallons. In 2021, we got it to 84 million gallons.”
Durr said those low levels resulted, at least in part, from successful leak detection and repairs. He suspected consumption climbed back up this past year partly due to a cold snap last January, when frozen pipes might have created more leaks. “When that happened we’ve seen high flows ever since.”
Cruise ships also returned this past summer after two seasons of minimal traffic, but they only used about 600,000 or 700,000 gallons, Durr said, down from an average of a couple million gallons per summer in years past, when they produced less water onboard.
As for increasing Piedad production, Durr said the borough assembly allocated capital improvement funds to install UV light disinfection equipment that can treat up to 150 gallons per minute. Piedad is currently limited to a maximum flow of 120 gallons per minute, Durr said, adding that “when groundwater conditions are right the new equipment could add another 1 million gallons per month.”
Durr said with effective leak management his department is hoping to reduce overall water consumption by 25-30%.