3 Y-K Delta Communities Face Water System Issues

Mar 10, 2021

Pilot Station on May 16, 2018.
Credit Mike Carpenter

Three Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta communities are facing issues with their water systems: Chevak, Pilot Station, and Tuluksak.

On March 8, a third of the community of Chevak lost access to running water and sewer service after a fire damaged aboveground pipes and destroyed the old village school. A spokesperson with the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation said that a YKHC worker is currently in Chevak, working to bypass the damaged area and restore water and sewer access. For now, affected residents are packing water from the treatment plant and hauling honey buckets.

Since Feb. 25, Pilot Station has been under a boil water notice after pressure dropped throughout the water system to below 20 psi. A YKHC spokesperson said that the health corporation cannot fix the issue because it will require reengineering the elevation of the pipes.

In Tuluksak, residents have limited access to drinking water. A fire destroyed the community’s only water treatment plant in mid-January. On March 2, 45 days after the fire, YKHC installed a temporary water filtration system in the school. The school allows residents to fill containers with drinking water for a few hours each day.

A Bethel-based company, Faulkner and Walsh Constructors, is contracted to install a temporary water purification plant in Tuluksak that could serve the community for several years. Company co-owner Steve Walsh said that the plant will be transported upriver from Bethel by the ice road, and will likely require weeks to install. A permanent water purification solution for Tuluksak remains several years away.