Storey gets stroke of good luck in water system leak |

Storey gets stroke of good luck in water system leak

Donald Heldoorn, welds a steel patch over the pinhole break in the Marlette system water line near Lakeview Hill at the edge of Highway 395 North on Tuesday. The 12-inch water main, which feeds Virginia City, Silver City and Gold Hill, ruptured Monday afternoon. Chad Lundquist/ Nevada Appeal

The pipe has been fixed and water is flowing to the Comstock once again.

But Storey County Emergency Management Director Joe Curtis says the emergency water conservation notice imposed when the line broke Monday remains in place until at least noon today.

He said faucets will have to be turned on slowly to prevent more damage to the old pipe that carries the water from Marlette Lake to Virginia City. He said it takes five or six hours to fill the pipe and for water to reach the Five Mile Reservoir.

“Once that is completed, the water line will be opened to the water treatment plant,” Curtis said.

Then the lines will have to be flushed for several hours before they can begin refilling the three reservoir tanks that hold water for Virginia City, Silver City and Gold Hill.

“We’ll be back to normal by noon,” he said.

Curtis said if people use only the water they really need, the 1,100 customers served by the system shouldn’t run out before then. He said the three storage tanks hold more than 700,000 gallons of water – enough for about two days normal use in the winter.

Nevada Department of Transportation crews discovered the leak Monday afternoon when they spotted water “gushing” from the ground where the pipe runs under Highway 395 at Lakeview Hill.

Nevada Department of Transportation officials first feared the leak would be under the highway but spokesman Scott Magruder said they were lucky – the break was just two feet inside the right-of-way.

Curtis said that after the break was exposed, a welder was called and patched the 12-inch-diameter pipe.

According to the Nevada Division of Parks, the water system was originally constructed in the 1860s. A wooden box flume carried water from Marlette Lake to Tunnel Creek Station. From there, it flows down a 4,000-foot tunnel to the Lakeview area where it enters a pipeline constructed as an inverted siphon. The siphon carries water to Five Mile Reservoir above Virginia City.

Some of the pipeline is still original – about 140 years old – and the pressure in that siphon system has caused it to rupture numerous times over the years..

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.