Marlette leak repaired |

Marlette leak repaired

Buildings and Grounds completed repairs Thursday afternoon on a leaky pipe that shut down the Marlette water system two days ago.

Mike Leahy, who manages the system, said he expected full flow through the system to be restored by Thursday afternoon.

A six-foot section of the transmission pipe above the tank overlooking Lakeview tore on Tuesday.

“It’s the main artery,” he said. “There’s no water if that’s leaking.”

He said when the pipe collapsed, it resulted in an 18-inch tear, forcing him to shut down the system. Now, he said, the pipe has been repaired and, “we’re getting the water back in the system now.”

It is at that water tank where the water flow is divided between the two utilities. And at the tank, the inverted siphon plunges 2,000 feet down the mountain, passes beneath Highway 395, then climbs back 1,500 feet into the Virginia Range to the storage tanks that supply Virginia City’s water.

Leahy has described the system as an engineering marvel.

“To think you can bring water over the Sierra to Virginia City without pumps ” just gravity feed,” he said in an earlier article about the system.

He said even though the flow was cut off for two days, the Comstock didn’t run out of water because both the new Bullion storage tank and Five Mile reservoir were almost full. He said with cooler weather, the demand for water in Virginia City has also dropped off substantially. But residents were cautioned to reduce water use where possible.

Those tanks are kept full because the 130-year-old water system does, periodically, suffer unexpected leaks.

The state has been making improvements in the system designed to ensure it will continue to provide water to both Virginia City and the Capital for years to come.

– Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.