Lack of water forces closure of Johnston Ridge Observatory

Tacoma News TribuneMay 14, 2014 

Visitors peer out of display windows at the volcano at the Johnston Ridge Observatory at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Friday, May 14, 2010, near Toutle, Wash., where behind is the huge open crater left from a blast nearly three decades ago. Tuesday will mark the 30th anniversary of the big eruption of May 18, 1980, that killed 57 people, knocked down a forest, filled local rivers with mudflows and rained ash far downwind. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) ORG XMIT: WAET109

ELAINE THOMPSON — AP

The Johnston Ridge Observatory at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is without water and is closed today.

The area will be operated as a viewpoint today with rangers available to answer questions. Visitors should note that, for today, the closest available restrooms are at Coldwater Lake.

“We’ve ordered portable toilets and hand wash stations for Johnston Ridge and our plan is to reopen the visitor center for business as usual Thursday,” said Peter Frenzen, monument public affairs officer.

Frenzen said the well and pump serving the observatory are working, but water is not reaching the building.

"Our assumption is that there is a break in the line and our folks are walking the line and looking for any sign of a leak," he said this afternoon. Once the leak is located and repaired, crews will have to re-pressurize and sanitize the system. Frenzen had no time line for when that will happen.

Visitors can get a recorded update regarding the closure by calling the Johnston Ridge Observatory at 360-274-2140. Updated information will also be posted in the News and Events section of the Mount St. Helens Science and Learning Center website at

Updated information will also be posted in the News and Events section of the Mount St. Helens Science and Learning Center website at www.mshslc.org.

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