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Water Service FAQs

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  • What is the normal water pressure?

    The Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility has established several pressure zones throughout the city in order to maintain a minimum pressure to our customers of 40 (PSI) and a maximum of 95 (PSI).

  • What is a keybox and where is it located?

    A keybox is a flat and circular, mushroom-shaped piece of metal extruding from the ground usually found near the property line where the building is connected to AWWU’s water service line. It can be commonly found in driveways or along the property’s easement line. It may be flush with the ground, or extend up from the ground a few inches (see photos below).

    Top View
    Side View

  • Why wasn't I notified in advance of the water being shut off?

    When an emergency exists (a road washed out, houses/basements flooded, main line breaks) or there is a threat to public safety, there may not be time to notify customers before the water must be turned off. You will be notified when pre-scheduled repair work requires your water service to be interrupted.

  • Is it OK for anyone to open a fire hydrant?

    No! Hydrants are provided primarily for fire protection. Special permits are required. They all are issued to those with legitimate reasons for hydrant use. Unauthorized hydrant use can damage the water system and result in a citation and fine. Call (907) 564-2762, AWWU Customer Service, to schedule an appointment to obtain a hydrant permit.

  • Why has my water pressure changed lately?

    Water pressures throughout the Anchorage area are maintained automatically to be constant. If you have had what seems to be a permanent change, please call our Engineering Division to receive information pertaining to the situation.

  • How do I protect my pipes in winter when I am on vacation?

    Some of these answers depend on:

    • Type of heat in your home
    • Location of the heat source (house, garage or utility room)
    • Physical location of the inside shutoff valve (crawl space, garage or above slab)
    • If you have forced air heat (i.e., a furnace with a blower), you could consider shutting off the inside valve and draining all the line, leaving the faucets all open. A better option with forced air heat would be to schedule having your keybox turned off as this would allow you entire lines to drain. However, there is a Utility fee for turning off the keybox and another to restore the service. Although this can get expensive, it may be cheaper than replacing frozen pipes in the home.
    • If you have baseboard or other form of hot water (boiler) heat, it is important that the boiler has make-up water for its operations. Therefore, it may not be as easy to isolate or drain your lines as you do not want to turn water off in front of the boiler feed line. If the branched lines beyond the boiler feed have valves, you could close those valves and open some faucets, but it would most likely be impossible to drain the lines.
    • Should I turn off the inside shut off valves?  - Only if you do not have a boiler that needs make up water. If you decide to leave the water on (for instance if you have water baseboard heat) you should have someone check the structure once a week to make sure the furnace is working and no leaks have developed.
    • If I have AWWU turn off the service line, should I empty pressure in the line by opening the faucets and shower heads?  - Yes, this would allow for some expansion in the lines in the event of freezing.
    • If I leave the house unattended are there any potential issues with turning the heat down to 50 degrees or colder?  - There are always potential for damages when heat is turned down. Some areas around the pipes may be cooler than the area where the thermostat is located.

    PLEASE NOTE: AWWU will not be liable for any damage that may occur based on the above recommendations. Contact your local plumber to discuss your particular situation.

  • Who makes repairs to broken water lines?

    If a water line is broken and water is coming out of the ground, in, under or around your house, there is a good possibility that you have an on-property leak. If you call AWWU and we come out and turn off your "keybox" and the water stops, that indicates a break in the homeowner's service lines and is the homeowner's responsibility to repair. A contractor usually is hired to obtain a permit and do the repair work. They will also schedule for an inspection of their work.

  • Who is responsible for the water line to my house?

    AWWU maintains the water service mains and is responsible for repairs from the water main to the property line. Homeowners are responsible for the service line from the property line to the house, including the shutoff valve inside the house. The only exception to this is if you have a water meter. The meter is owned and maintained by the Utility.

  • Where is my shutoff valve located?

    • The inside shutoff valve is located where the water service line enters the building and situated about three feet above the floor.
    • Residential Home Shut Off Water Valve
    • Local amendments to the Plumbing Code require the water shutoff valve to be located within 10 feet of the crawlspace access when it is located in the crawlspace.
    • Other places to look would be at or near the water heater in the garage or mechanical room when located in a basement.
    • The water shut off valve will either be a ball valve or a gate valve.
    Ball Valve
    Gate Valve
  • How much storage capacity does AWWU have?

    AWWU has a reservoir storage capacity of more than 52 million gallons. With our average daily system usage of approximately 27 million gallons, there is enough water stored in our system to meet up to 2 days usage.

  • What is our average water temperature?

    • Winter: 41º Fahrenheit (5º Celsius)
    • Summer: 46º Fahrenheit (8º Celsius)
  • What is a thaw wire and where is it located?

    A "thaw wire" (solid or braided, rubber or plastic-covered copper cable) may protrude from the ground with the keybox. If not, it may be located in a separate area of the property. If you cannot find your thaw wire, call AWWU (564-2700) to discuss your options to have a thaw wire installed.

  • How do I treat my water in an emergency?

    Boiling is the surest way to make water safe to drink. Vigorous boiling for one minute will kill any disease-causing microorganisms in water. The flat taste of boiled water can be improved by pouring it back and forth from one container to another to aerate it, by allowing it to stand in the refrigerator for a few hours, or by adding a pinch of salt for each quart of water boiled.

  • How is the water of Anchorage treated to ensure that it is safe to drink?

    The Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility has set up a 3 barrier system at both of our water treatment plants consisting of chemical treatment filtration and chlorinating. All the water from any of our wells is disinfected with chlorine.

  • Where does my water come from?

    • If you are a customer of AWWU and live north of the Anchorage bowl (for example Eagle River) then your water is obtained exclusively from the Eklutna Water Treatment Plant, which receives its water from Eklutna Lake.
    • If you are a customer living inside the Anchorage bowl area then the water is typically a blend of water from the Eklutna Treatment Plant, Ship Creek Water Treatment Plant and wells in the distribution system.
    • For AWWU customers living in Girdwood, the water comes exclusively from wells.