Budget cuts lead to sale of popular Fairbanks well by DOT

The Alaska Department of Transportation is preparing to sell a popular well that provides Fairbanks area residents with water. Fox springs has long been a staple resource for cabin dwellers and others who want free spring water. DOT said cuts in its budget are leading to the sale.

The water from the Fox spring near Fairbanks has long been a local institution. Located about 10 miles from town near, the community of Fox, the Department of Transportation has maintained it for years, drilling a well, when the actual spring ran dry. Now budget cuts are forcing the agency to sell the site, DOT spokesperson Meadow Bailey said.

“We’re cutting positions and we’re closing maintenance stations and it doesn’t fall within DOT’s mission statement,” Bailey said. “So really, in our view, it’s not necessarily in our job to be in the water business.”

Bailey says under the rules the state must offer it to the local property owner, in this case, Pewter, LLC owned by Patrick Kohl. Kohl says if the sale goes through he’ll keep the spring open until a consortium of locals forms to maintain the site, which DOT estimates to be about $50,000 a year.

“We’d let them have the spring water if they can find somebody to maintain it and stuff,” Kohl said.

Doug Kane, a hydrologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks says tradition and ease of access sets Fox springs apart, not necessarily the water.

“And it’s sort of built its own reputation as something that was sort of unique and maybe better,” Kane said. “But I don’t think that’s true because there’s lot of other springs, some that are even better than that one.”

The sale price for the springs will be determined by an independent appraiser. DOT has tentatively set the sale date as August 10.