FAIRBANKS—The Fox spring has run dry.
At least that’s what it appears, which is why the Department of Transportation closed the popular watering hole about 10 miles north of Fairbanks on Thursday.
DOT information officer Hannah Blankenship said the spring, which is actually a well with a holding tank, has been having problems much of the summer and that DOT, which is responsible for overseeing the facility, has received numerous complaints from people about low water flow.
“We’ve been out there quite a bit this summer trying to do a number of fixes,” she said. “This past week we took a look at the whole system, which included dropping a camera down the well casing next to the pump, and it’s become apparent it’s run dry.
“The water table has dropped away from the bottom of the casing,” Blankenship said.
The well is 27 feet deep and is considered a “shallow” well, she said. It was drilled by DOT in 1980 and had never before run dry.
The spring, where many dry Fairbanksans go to haul their water for free, is closed until DOT comes up with a plan, Blankenship said.
A chain was put up across the walkway leading to the water station, and DOT posted a sign on the chain that reads, “NO WATER DUE TO CHANGING CONDITIONS THE FOX SPRINGS IS CURRENTLY DRY.”
DOT maintenance staff are meeting Monday to discuss potential solutions to the problem, though Blankenship did not say what those solutions, such as drilling a deeper well, might be.
The Fox watering hole was originally an artesian well that ran out of the ground, but DOT drilled a well and installed a pump and holding tank in 1980, Blankenship said.
“Over the past 30 years it’s been producing less and less water,” she said.
The drying up of the spring couldn’t have come at a worse time for Gary Handlang, who recently moved into a dry cabin on Gold Mine Trail a few miles from the water station.
“One of the reasons I picked this spot was because of the springs,” he said. “I’m a little bit concerned now.”
Contact staff writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.