Month-long water leak sparks frustration for some Palo Alto residents

A water leak in Palo Alto has been flowing for one month, gushing from under a metal plate and flowing down Arastradero Road.

It started when a city contractor accidentally damaged a pipe.

Resident Lorna Paisley says, "Yes I find it frustrating! Because whatever it is, it's not being taken care of."

Sara Fisher, another resident says, "My husband and I joke about finding a way to use the water to water our lawn because it's just water that's going down the drain."

In fact, it’s about 2 to 3 gallons a minute going down the drain. The city estimates they've lost between 80,000-120,000 gallons total since the leak began July 11. But they say turning the water off isn't an option.

Catherine Elvert with the city of Palo Alto says, "This is a major water transmission pipeline and if we were to shut this down it would shut off water service for a number of customers in the area, including a couple of schools, so we don't want to do that."

They couldn't repair the leak either. Palo Alto has been waiting weeks to get the parts they need for the job.

Elvert says, "It's a somewhat unusual size which means that it requires specialty parts, which unfortunately the manufacturer happened to be out of stock so we had to place an order and it's taken a little while for those parts to come in."

The city thinks they'll be ready next week. The trouble is that construction and closed lanes of traffic will now coincide with the first week back to school. Gunn High School and Fletcher Middle School are both nearby so officials are working on a plan.

Elvert says, "Making sure that the students are going to have a safe route to school. We are going to try to minimize any traffic impacts due to the construction."

And while the timing isn't great, residents say they're relieved something is finally being done.

Fisher says, "I'm happy to hear they're actually planning to fix it though. It's been a really long time."

Once crews get the necessary parts, they expect the repairs should take about week to complete.