The Mount Ashland ski area's water leak worsened Saturday, forcing the resort to temporarily shut down in the latest of a series of setbacks since the holidays.

The Mount Ashland ski area's water leak worsened Saturday, forcing the resort to temporarily shut down in the latest of a series of setbacks since the holidays.

"It's been a challenging month," said Kim Clark, Mount Ashland's general manager.

Without enough water to flush the toilets, the resort closed at 2 p.m. Saturday, two hours earlier than the normal 4 p.m. closing time.

On Sunday portable toilets were brought in, allowing the resort to reopen.

Clark said the leak, first noticed about a month ago, hasn't been found yet because the water line is buried under 7 to 8 feet of snow and four feet of partly frozen soil.

Despite the setback, Clark said Sunday was the second busiest day of the season, with both parking lots filled.

"The guests are having a great time," he said.

The water line traverses a three-quarter-mile-long stretch from a stream to the resort. Inspections have been made along some sections, but Clark said the problem might not be resolved until the snow is gone.

He said attempts might be made to bypass the aging galvanized pipeline, possibly putting sleeves inside to prevent digging up the ground.

If a new trench and line need to be installed, Clark said it would require extensive environmental review.

"It would be a big expense," he said. "It would require a well-detailed plan."

The water line was installed when Mount Ashland opened more than 40 years ago, said Clark. Enough water is still flowing to the resort to keep the operation running, though visitors will have to contend with the portable toilets, said Clark.

Since its Dec. 20 opening, the resort has been plagued with storm-related road closures, power failures and searches for lost snowboarders. Blizzard conditions forced the closure of the resort for three days in early January.

Despite the setbacks, Clark said the resort is ready for its annual Bavarian Night celebration from 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday to benefit the Mount Ashland Ski Patrol.

Ashland resident Paul Copeland said he went to the resort Sunday and saw the portable toilets and heard about the leak.

He said he also noticed portable toilets around Christmas.

"It's par for the course," he said. "They've got an aging facility."

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com.