Fire Destroys Tuluksak, Alaska, Water Supply

Feb. 1, 2021

An Alaskan community’s only source of clean, running water has been destroyed due to a fire.

A fire in Tuluksak, Alaska, destroyed the village’s washateria and water plant building.

This was the community’s only source of clean, running water, reported Alaska Public Media.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation hosted a meeting for local, state, and federal agencies to discuss how to restore water service.

For now, the community wants to connect its well to the school, since the school is set up for running water. The well pulls up water from the Tuluksak River, which is not safe to drink, however. 

Another plan is to use a portable water treatment plant that YKHC said they have sitting unused in Bethel, reported Alaska Public Media. Agencies will have to determine if the plant will even be able to purify water from the Tuluksak River.

If the plant from YKHC is unable to purify the waters of the Tuluksak River, procuring a portable purification system from the Lower 48 will be explored. The project would have to be completed and delivered before the summer barge season ends, however.

The tribe needs to verify whether the building was insured before any agencies can release funds for the medium-term purification systems. According to the tribe, the person who has that information on their computer is out of the office with COVID-19, reported Alaska Public Media.

Approximately one third of the entire village has tested positive for COVID-19.

The tribe has already filed a grant application with the Indian Health Service for some of the funds to cover a new plant. This new plant is the long-term Plan A. It will be three or four years before a new water plant would be installed and usable.

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Cristina Tuser