2 Alaska communities expect to run out of drinking water soon
A recent lack of rain isn't only impacting people who live near wildfires. Dry conditions have now forced at least two Alaska communities to figure out what to do if their drinking water supplies dry up.
Officials in the village of Nanwalek and Seldovia both say their drinking water supplies are nearly gone.
"We are implementing plans to possibly do like rolling blackouts but with water. So certain sections of water, the mains will be shut off for certain amounts of time during the day to minimize consumption," said Seldovia City Manager Cassidi Cameron.
Cameron says the town recently fixed a big water leak and the community has come together to conserve water. But at this point, that may not be enough to keep water storage tanks from running dry.
"Right now, we are procuring pallets of water to be shipped down and we're getting those logistics worked out right now. We're off the road system so we need to have the state ferry," Cameron said.
Nanwalek village officials provided a photo of their dam. It holds back rain and mountain runoff that's used as the village's drinking water supply.
Chief John Kvasnikoff says the water level behind the dam is lower than a pipe that moves the water to drinking water storage tanks, meaning the small amount of water than remains behind the dam can't flow into the tanks.
He says people may be able to pull water from a lake but they will have to boil it if they use it for cooking. Boats will be used to shuttle water from nearby Port Graham. He also says some Native groups are also working to bring bottled water to the community. The chief says he has notified the State of Alaska about the situation.
"I sent them a letter saying we are in a pretty much of a state of emergency along with Seldovia," said Chief Kvasnikoff.
Nanwalek Village Administrator Gwen Kvasnikoff said the village has been able to delay running out of drinking water by shutting off water from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. The local laundromat is also closed and drinking water is being barged in from Homer with help from Chugachmiut.
While it has rained recently in Nanwalek, Kvasnikoff says the village would need a lot more to recharge the drinking water supply. She says what's being done right now to conserve water is only a short-term solution to the problem.
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