Leak is wasting tens of thousands of gallons of water

The leak is under these metal plates on Arastradero Road across from the entrance to Alta Mesa Memorial Park. Post photo.
The leak is under these metal plates on Arastradero Road across from the entrance to Alta Mesa Memorial Park. Post photo.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Tens of thousands of gallons of water have gushed out of a city water pipe on Arastradero Road over the last month, but Palo Alto utilities officials say they won’t be able to fix the leak for another one to three weeks.

Since July 11, the water has been seeping out from under a steel plate on Arastradero Road across the street from the entrance to Alta Mesa Memorial Park. The water drains east to Georgia Avenue. The stream then loops around the corner to Wallis Court, where it falls down a sewer drain.

Wallis Court resident Alexandra Gotsch, 81, said she was concerned that water was being wasted.

Utilities Department spokeswoman Catherine Elvert said yesterday that a city contractor had accidentally damaged the pipe while excavating to replace a valve on a water transmission pipeline.

How about shutting off the water?

Elvert said that once utility officials learned about the leak, city crews and the contractor responded immediately to try to stop the water flow and repair the pipe, but weren’t able to completely shut off water service on that line because it feeds water to many customers in the area, including a couple of local schools.

“Water has been trickling from the pipe at a rate of 2 to 3 gallons per minute since the pipe was damaged,” Elvert said in an email. “We estimate that the total water loss since the leak began is around 80,000-120,000 gallons.”

Unusually-sized parts

The pipe is an unusual size, so the city had to order special parts to repair it. Those parts are scheduled to arrive in time for repair work to begin “as early as next week,” Elvert said. “The repair work may be delayed one or two weeks while we mobilize equipment, parts and construction crews.”

City employees are developing a “special traffic control plan for mitigating impacts around the construction area” and ensuring safe routes for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, Elvert said.

Once construction repairs begin, work on the pipe is expected to take about a week.

Elvert recommended that Palo Altans use the city’s Heads Up! tool to find information on construction-related road closures. The site can be accessed at https://bit.ly/2Mf1TZV.


  1. To answer your question, we’re talking about the city government. They’re very slow. They’re a bunch of clock watchers who do the minimum amount of work necessary to keep from being fired. Got to have all their coffee breaks and lunch, vacation days, sick days and every other Friday off too. If you make them go faster, they’ll complain to their union shopsteward, who has a direct line to City Council. It’s just water they’re wasting, not anything valuable. And it’s other people’s water, so they don’t care. Three weeks sounds about right. Got to take a break now!

  2. While we can blame the city for alot of stuff, this kind of thing is beyond their control. Those parts are generally special order and have to be made. Its not like there is a Water Main Depot you can pull up a city truck to and go shopping

  3. I’m glad the city is OK with this leakage and isn’t rushing to fix it. I’ve wanted to increase the irrigation of my lawn and wash the car more often. I figure the city’s response to this leak is my green light to use more water. Excellent example the city is setting for residents!

  4. Well, since PAU always justifies our water rate increases on the grounds that we conserved too much, does this mean we won’t be seeing another rate increase for a while? That would be great since PAU ran a $19,500,000 surplus last year that the channeled into the General Fund.

    By the way, what’s happening with the lawsuit against that practice of siphoning funds out of our pockets via these over-charges to fund general city activities?

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