Emmonak struggles to rebuild water systems following fire

The City of Emmonak remains without its sewer and water after a fire.  Efforts are underway to improve the situation.

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On Tuesday night, the Emmonak City Council approved a proposal to start repairs on its crippled sewage treatment plant, which caught fire Monday.

The Council approved $20,000 to fix the roof of the plant, a step which has to be done before replacing a burned out pump, which is what caused the fire. City Manager Martin Moore said this cannot wait.

“The immediate problem is the families,” Moore said. “The families need to have potable water, they need to flush their toilets and they need to flush the water from the bathtub and showers to the lagoon.”

The City Council did act quickly, approving Moore’s proposal to enter into a contract with Rich Contracting Incorporated, which was already doing work on the plant at the time of the blaze.

The contractor estimates three days to fix the roof, but Moore said the whole operation could be out of commission for weeks and this worries him.

“If the repair work for the vacuum pump is not done in time, it’s possible that the pipes at the west end and at the east end of town, which provides close to 300 homes, will probably freeze,” Moore said. “And if it freezes, it will become a major disaster.”

Moore guesses it could take months to fix, if this happens.  And then there would be another problem. Moore says Emmonak doesn’t have the funds to repair the damages, should the pipes freeze. It could cost over a million dollars and Moore said the village would have to go to the state for help.

“We would have to declare an emergency disaster,” Moore said.

Emmonak has gotten some relief funds already from the Alaska Native Health Consortium: $5,000 for the roof.  They also requested help from the Rasmuson Foundation. Moore just hopes it will come in time.

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