SAN JOSE -- Brian Johnston was relaxing in his Willow Glen home following an early swim Sunday when someone began banging on his door. Johnston assumed it was a solicitor and ignored it.
Then a woman opened his front door and began yelling at him: "You have a leak. You have a leak."
Johnston has been getting strange looks, knocks on his door and nods of disapproval since June 19, when water started bubbling up in the street gutter in front of his home on Byerley Avenue.
He contacted the San Jose Water Company that morning, and a few times after, and has been told fixing the leak is a low priority.
In a time when city, county and state officials are urging residents to conserve water, Johnston said he is mystified why the water company is taking so long to make the repair. He estimates about 5 gallons of water are gushing from the leak every minute, perhaps wasting thousands of gallons water daily.
"They're dragging their feet and I don't understand it," said Johnston, who as an electrical contractor understands putting a priority on various jobs. "It's been way too long."
John Tang, spokesman for the San Jose Water Company, said the utility always follows protocols when a leak is reported and works to quickly and safely make the repair. The water company acknowledges it can sometimes take days to repair a leak, but must follow safety protocols when dealing with the issue.
When a leak is reported, the water company sends workers to determine the type and severity of the leak. State law requires utilities to complete an underground service alert before digging in the street. Once the alert is requested, other utilities are allowed up to 48 hours to mark the locations of their infrastructure including pipelines, conduits, cables, and other structures.
After the underground service alert is completed, repairs are prioritized accordingly based on available resources, Tang said. The water company said the average U.S. water utility loses about 20 percent of its water to leaks and fire protection and that its water loss consistently averages about 7 percent.
Johnston said the water district did send out workers to examine the leak, and they left a construction barrier over the gutter.
Johnston said the water company told him he'd be given 24-hour notice when the work would be started. As of Thursday morning, he was still waiting for the call.
"Everybody that walks by, they look at the leak and look at the house," with what Johnston said is a look that says, "How about fixing this pal?"
After a few days of comments, Johnston taped a note to the barricade stating, "This was called in on 6/19 @ 11:30. Your tax dollars!!!"
Although most neighbors are upset by the sight of water being wasted, neighborhood kids have taken advantage of the situation by building sailboats and sending them down the street toward the drain, Johnson said. Thursday several large rocks were lined up across the storm drain; Johnson chalked it up to neighborhood kids "having fun."
Contact Mark Gomez at 408-920-5869. Follow him at Twitter.com/markmgomez.