Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is the water safe to drink?
Yes! Juneau’s drinking water meets all the federal and state drinking water standards.

Does my drinking water come from ground water or surface water?
Our water comes from both and it depends on where you live. For example most of the water for downtown, in the hospital area, and on Douglas Island comes from Last Chance Basin aquifer (ground water). All areas north of the hospital primarily receive surface water out of Salmon Creek Water Filtration Plant.

How does water get from the source to my house?
The water lines are a closed, pressurized system. Pumps and gravity help to push the water to homes and businesses. In other areas where the pressure may be too high, pressure reducing valves decrease the pressure to the taps.

What do you do to treat the water before I receive it?
Juneau has a very high quality water. Chlorine is added to the water for disinfection purposes, and soda ash is added to Salmon Creek water to reduce its corrosiveness.

Why does the water look dirty sometimes?
Parts of the system are old. Rust or sediments may have accumulated over the years and any changes in flow may disturb this material causing discolored water. Entrained air may also cause the water to look “milky”.

Typical events that may cause temporary coloration of the water include:

  • Fires in your area
  • Breaks and/or repairs in the water main
  • Construction of new water mains
  • Hydrant flushing or other maintenance work

The water remains safe to drink.

What should I do when the water is discolored?
Let the water run for 5 or 10 minutes. If the problem does not go away after an hour, call the Water Utility.

What is a cross-connection?
A cross connection is a physical interconnection between the drinking water and possible sources of contaminated water. In the home, typical cross-connections may be from garden hoses, dishwashers, or heating systems.

What is a water meter?

meterA water meter is a brass bodied device that is typically installed in the crawlspace of homes, multi-family dwellings or commercial accounts to measure water use. All water fixtures, including outside house bibs, are plumbed after the meter in order for it to capture all water use. While most residents are not metered in the City of Juneau, residences having two or more units, commercial businesses, and bulk water sales are required to have a meter.

Do you need a meter? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have a mother-in-law (accessory apartment)?
  • Do you own a duplex or other multi-family dwelling?
  • Have you converted your home into a commercial business with an apartment?
  • Have you converted a portion of your home to host another independent living space?

If you answered any of these questions with a “yes”, you might need a Water Meter. Typically, in these situations, most people will end up saving money as they will be paying for the water they use. Contact the CBJ Public Works Water Utility if you would like to have a meter installed.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do meters work?
Typical residential water meters have two chambers. A fill chamber and a discharge chamber separated by a movable disc. As water enters the meter body, water floods the filling chamber and displacing a movable disc. The disc then forces water out of the discharge chamber. As this process repeats, the motion of the disc drives gears on the meter register. The meter register then displays the volume of water that passed through the meter.

How are meters read?
For residential accounts, meters are read to the nearest thousand gallons. On a residential meter, you will notice one stationary zero dial with a black background. This dials represents the 10’s of gallons used. Because the dial is stationary, the resolution of this meter is said to be 10 gallons. Although the 100 gallon dial turns, the Water Bureau only bills to the nearest thousand (the third number from the left) gallons used each month.

Does somebody need to enter my crawlspace every month to read the meter?
No. The meters are read wirelessly each month. A meter reader only needs to be within 200 feet of the meter to read the signal.

My bill is unusually high, is my water meter broken?
Water meters are most efficient when they are brand new. Similar to a car, the efficiency becomes less with time. In short, water meters become less efficient and actually record fewer gallons per minute than a newer meter.

Who owns the water meter in my crawlspace?
The water meter remains the property of the CBJ water utility. Your only responsibility is to continue to provide a warm dry environment for the meter.

Need Help?
If you think your water bill is high and it is not a result of water leaks, call the CBJ Public Works Water Utility at 907-586-0601 to have your water meter’s accuracy checked. If the meter is found to be faulty it will be replaced at no charge. If no problems are found with the meter a service charge will be levied. At this point, you may need to call a plumber for additional assistance.

Why is my water bill so high?

A sudden change in your water bill may indicate you have a leak within your system. If you have a leak within your system you are still responsible to pay for the water used. Maintaining your system by fixing any leaks or replacing old plumbing is a great way to avoid paying for excess water.

If you are confident you do not have a water leak and your bill seems high, consider these questions:

  • Do you have new renters with different water use habits?
  • Did you do extra loads of laundry before or after a vacation?
  • Did you have friends or relatives staying with you?

Checking for Leaks

Faucets, Bathtubs and Showers

  • Replace worn gaskets and washers.
  • Tighten connections and valves.


  • Listen, Look, and Feel for running water in the tank and bowl.
  • Put a few drops of food coloring into the tank and look for flow into the bowl.
  • See if the flapper seats tightly into the drain opening. If not, replace the flapper.

Water Heater

  • Check the pressure and temperature valve for leaks.
  • Check the the drain valve to see if it secured tightly.

Dishwashers and Clothes Washers

  • Look for water or stains underneath or in front of the appliance.

Water Service Connection

  • Look for water pools or drips in your crawlspace or basement near the water connection.
  • Turn off all water at each appliance or plumbing fixture, wait 5 minutes, and then check to see if your water meter is still turning.

Outside Faucets

  • Outside Faucets and other plumbing appliances are exposed to the elements. Check for damage caused by Rust that could allow water to leak.

Need Help?

If you still think your water bill is high but is not a result of water leaks, call the CBJ Public Works Water Utility at 907-586-0601 to have your water meter’s accuracy checked. If the meter is found to be faulty it will be replace at no charge. If no problems are found with the meter a service charge will be levied. At this point, you may need to call a plumber for additional assistance.

Finding Water Leaks