Expect Water And Sewer Delays Through The Holidays Due To Staff Shortages

Dec 5, 2017

Expect delays of water and sewer services through the holidays due to a shortage of truck drivers.
Credit Jeremy Osborne / Yuut Elitnaurviat

Staffing shortages are not an unusual problem for most Bethel employers, and the City is no different. Bethel City Manager Peter Williams says that delays of water and sewer services are expected through the holidays due to a shortage of drivers for the city’s water and sewer trucks.


“Part of the problem is having a qualified number of CDL drivers,” said Williams. “There are 17 positions - at the current moment we have 11 filled.”


CDLs, or Commercial Driver's Licenses, are a job requirement for driving a city water or sewage truck. But Bethel is also cracking down on employees who do not drive safely.


“We’ve had a problem with the drivers driving in a safe manner; that cannot be denied,” said Williams.  


In the past, says Williams, the city has overlooked concerns brought up about some drivers, but no longer. They’ve let a few drivers go, he said.


The city met recently with its insurance company to figure out ways to bring down a number of safety risks, and Williams says that the Public Works Director is holding safety meetings with the drivers.


Water and sewer truck drivers typically work six days a week from 10 to 12 hours daily, says Williams, with some of them volunteering their days off to keep on top of deliveries. They also have drivers available on call to make deliveries if one is missed.


Yuut Elitnaurviat usually offers four six-week Commercial Driver's License training sessions a year, but is currently looking to fill its vacant Commercial Driving Instructor position. Williams says that this has made it more difficult for the city to replace the drivers they’ve lost.


If you do run out of water or need sewer services, says Williams, you can file a complaint form on the city's website or call the city at 543-2047.