Melt-off deluge makes city water bubble

A massive snow pack left from wet winter storms have allowed Carson City to pump into its pipes more surface water than ever, and along with it, more bubbles.

Alka-Seltzer-looking water coming from mostly west Carson City taps is the result of air in the system, said Public Works Operations Manager Tom Hoffert.

Surface water contains several times the amount of air as ground water, Hoffert said, and that air is making water straight out of many of the city's faucets a bubbly, milky white, at least for a minute or two.

Ash left over from last year's Waterfall fire had initially gummed up the water treatment plant that runoff goes through before entering the municipal water supply, preventing the city from taking full advantage of the high flow of snowmelt from saturated hills.

The treatment plant is operating more efficiently now, Hoffert said. "Luckily, the recent thunderstorms avoided the west slopes," from which the runoff is captured.

As the municipal water system grew throughout the city over the course of several years, hundreds of air-escape valves were built into pipes at high points where air would naturally collect. The valves need annual maintenance, whether it's repair, cleaning or replacement, but there's no telling just where they are.

"We don't have them all mapped," Hoffert said.

So far, city workers have cleaned more than 100 of them while installing even more, he added.

In the meantime though, residents can be assured it's just air.


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