Metro leaks.

In fact, what started as an annoying drip in the Capitol South station on Tuesday has turned into a major stalactite-forming trickle.

"There is one leak there that is highly visible to the public, because the water is dropping on the platform," said Howard W. Lyons, Metro's deputy assistant general manager for design and construction.

Another reson the leak is highly visible is that one fairly large bucket and another smaller container that looks something like grandmother's water pitcher have been placed on the platform, next to the tracks.

That is not the only leak. There are at least three others at the Capitol South station alone, and maybe "a thousand small leaks" throughout the system.

"Someone once defined a tunnel as a watertight compartment that leaks," said Lyons. "With all this rain we've had (10 inches in the last two months) we're getting a unique opportunity to find out where the leaks are."

But are the leaks going to be fixed?

"We've got to get together and decide the best way of doing this." said Lyons. "My guess is that the one at Capitol South will have a high priority."

Other particularly noticeable leaks have cropped up at the Federal Triangle and Rosslyn stations.

In many cases, Lyons said, the leaks are still the responsibility of the various contractors who built the Metro stations. In other cases, Metro will just have to fix them.

Lyons said his employees were making a complete survey of underground Metro stations to locate all the water problems. "Then the most efficient thing to do would be to get one contractor to fix them all at once; we may not be able to do that on a big leak," he said.

Lyons said that none of the leaks presented problems to the efficient operation of the railroad. Last July, early in the Blue Line's operating life, a cloudburst filled G Street NW and water spilled over the curb into a Metro vent shaft. That dumped enough water on the line to stop the trains for 30 minutes.

"We have been concentrating on fixing problems like that that could actually stop us," Lyons said. "The little leaks will come later." CAPTION: Picture, Containers catch water dripping from the ceiling at the Capitol South Metro station. By Charles [WORD ILLEGIBLE] - The Washington Post