ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- A St. Augustine city water pipe that was pouring out water last week is now dry.
The pipe and hydrant sit next to U.S. 1 just south of Stokes Landing Road.
Doug Laidlaw lives around the corner from the pipe on Stokes Landing.
"It looked very good," he said, talking about the cleaned freshly cut grass and the dry pipe.
Last Tuesday, Laidlaw showed First Coast News he could fill a 5 gallon bucket in 12 seconds with the water pouring from the pipe.
At the time, he said, "It's a waste a natural resource in the worst way."
After that, First Coast News spoke to Martha Graham, the St. Augustine City Public Works Director.
"Unfortunately, we have to do this," she explained. "It's our only solution at the moment."
Graham said the pipe which spewed water is at the northern most point of the city's pipe system. Because the water does not go to any homes, the water can become stagnant and does not meet federal safety standards. So, she said, the city has to flush the pipe, releasing the water.
Laidlaw and others who live and work near the pipe said it had been flowing water for years. Graham said it had been flushing for six weeks. She said she knew it had been "flushed" for a period of time two years ago as well.
At the unscientific fill-the-bucket rate, enough water came out of the pipe to fill two Olympic sized swimming pools in six weeks.
Graham explained the water was not coming out of the pipe Monday because the chemical amounts were at acceptable levels.
"There was a greater willingness to move after attention was brought to the matter," Laidlaw said.
On Monday, First Coast News obtained a copy of an email from the City of St. Augustine to the St. Johns River Water Management District dated Friday, July 6th. The email included a map and a plan to "significantly reduce the amount of water necessary to flush."
According to that letter from Graham, the pipe that released water will not do so anymore because the water pipe at Ronald Road, further south, will be "valved shut." Ronald Road is a street about 1,700 feet south of the pipe which Laidlaw was concerned about. That will result in 1,700 feet of water main to be "abandoned."
Graham also explained that this week, automatic flushing valves will be placed in two nearby spots -- the end of Sunset Boulevard and at the end of Venetian Boulevard. Those will flush 15 minutes a day for two cycles.
First Coast News shared the plan with Laidlaw.
"Well, that's certainly better than 24 hours a day," he said.
The city also plans to complete a loop with the pipe. That loop is expected to let water flow through the pipe system and reduce the risk of becoming stagnant.
"It'll get used as opposed to being flushed out at the end of the line," Laidlaw believed.
The city letter states closing the loop will cost about $80,000 and will be done when "financing is available."
The St. Johns River Water Management District sent a letter to the city June 29 asking for information about hydrants which seemed to be flushing water.
Last week, Graham said the city and the water management district had been discussing the issue. She said the city was looking at solutions.
Days later, she submitted the map and plan to the St. Johns Water Management District.
"I think it will go a long way to help," Laidlaw said.
Laidlaw was worried about the waste of water last week. Now he seems satisfied with the city's plan, the efforts of the water management district, and "the attention focused on it by your news agency helped out. I'm positive about that because I know the attitude about this up to this point. That prompted action. That's all there is to it."
Laidlaw hopes the issue will dry up for now, that water will be conserved, and an empty pipe will blend into the side of the highway.
First Coast News