Elim without potable water; boil notice issued

Elim in winter. (KNOM file photo)

The community of Elim is going into its fourth day without running water, following more than a day without power over the weekend. And as of Tuesday, the state issued a boil-water notice for the Norton Sound coastal community.

One local teacher confirms the Elim Aniguiin school has had early dismissals the past three days, due to a lack of water for students. According to a statement from school staff, the building does not have flushing toilets or water for students to wash their hands. They estimate that they have “just enough to give about a measuring cup of water with each meal.”

Laura Achee, a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), says the power outage caused the community’s water issues.

“Our understanding of the situation in Elim is that there was a power outage that lasted about a day and a half,” Achee said. “Without water pressure in the system, that allowed the tanks to drain, and so it’s our understanding that there is no water left in the system. They are apparently having trouble getting the pumps restarted.”

Staff from ADEC’s drinking water program helped inform Achee of the situation, but she says at this time they don’t have any additional information about the amount of water or the source of water Elim has access to. Nor does ADEC know what is preventing the water pumps from coming back online.

“We’ve heard that there are folks from AVEC (Alaska Village Electric Cooperative)in the community on a different issue that are assisting in helping get the pumps restarted, but at this time, we have not heard that they have restarted (them),” Achee said.

The Elim school expects to be on an early dismissal schedule again today unless the water pressure system comes back on. Elim’s city office could not be reached for comment before the airing of this story.

Achee says the boil-water notice will remain in place until the community’s water system has a pressure of 20 PSI and water samples are determined to be clean.