Wet Weather Plays Havoc With Homer Infrastructure

     Wet weather has taken its toll on the Kenai Peninsula in recent weeks. Residents on the central peninsula – particularly in a flooded neighborhood off Kalifornsky Beach Road – have been hardest hit. But on the southern peninsula, heavy rain and saturated soil has kept public works crews busy, as well.

     Public Works Director Carey Meyer says the City of Homer has been busy the last few weeks, dealing with fallout from heavy rains, mostly in the form of clogged culverts and excessive water runoff. On Monday, a 10-inch water main broke in downtown Homer, sending workers scrambling to fix it. In a news release, the public works department said the break was caused by a shift in the earth.

     Meyer says that normally, when a water pipe breaks, it breaks clean in half. But in this incident, a lateral crack split the pipe lengthwise.

     "So, (there was) a lot more water loss than you might normally have," said Meyer.

     The water main break caused issues with water pressure and discolored water for many in the central Homer area Monday. Meyer says his crews were able to fix the pipe and flush the system. Everything should be back to normal now.

     The pipe in question is cast iron and about 25 years old, says Meyer, which is normal for many large water pipes in Homer. 

     The city has already used a process called "slip-lining" - where a strong, protective sleeve is installed inside a piep - on some sewer lines in Homer and hopes to be able to reinforce older water lines using the same technique. Meyer says all new water mains are made of High-Density Polyethylene – or HDPE. That’s the same flexible, sturdy material that natural gas lines are made of.

     A few weeks ago, another incident in Homer was caused by the installation of natural gasline. Meyer says an Enstar crew accidentally nicked a water line along East End Road with its boring machine, causing a section of the roadway and sidewalk to slough off. That repair job has also been completed.

     And then last Monday, a large mudslide came down Bear Creek, blocking East End Road for several hours with mud, logs and other debris. Meyer says the city assisted Alaska Department of Transportation with some of the cleanup effort there.

     Of course, mudslides are nothing new to the southern Kenai Peninsula. In 2002, a pair of heavy storms within a week caused problems all over Homer, in particular at Woodard Creek near Karen Hornaday Park. Meyer says that area has been reinforced with new culverts and bridges. 

     This year, city crews have been keeping busy with culvert and drainage issues along Mattox Street, Paradise Lane and Meadow Drive.

     Meyer says that although the rain seemed to have paused Tuesday, Homer residents might not be quite out of the woods just yet. As of Tuesday afternoon, the weather forecast for the Kenai Peninsula called for sunny skies on Wednesday, followed by clouds and a chance of snow and rain Thursday.