Water shortage looms in Chignik Lagoon

Chignik Lagoon, July 10, 2019. (Photo by Alex Hager/KDLG)

Chignik Lagoon is in the midst of a water shortage. The community’s 150 residents have been on a boil water notice since July 2. As of Thursday, they had 5,000 gallons of drinkable water remaining.

Environmental specialist Leah Vansandt, who works for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, said several issues are contributing to the lack of clean, accessible water. The water well is dry due to a lack of rain, and the village’s distribution system is damaged.

“They had a lot of leaks in their distribution system,” she explained. “They also had their well source unable to meet the demand. Initially, they were hooking up to the creek, which, as far as our section is concerned – the drinking water is an unimproved source. They were put on a boil water notice for that.”

Those water pumps failed yesterday, and the village is waiting for additional parts before they begin repairs. The distribution lines also need to be fixed, but that cannot happen until the Alaska Energy Authority looks into the problem. The village has notified the authority and is waiting for a response.

Program Manager Heather Murray said the DEC is helping the village seek out federal funding to fix the wells and distribution lines.

“But even if they’re able to get funding, they believe they need new wells and that’s the thing – it’s not an instantaneous quick fix, if you will,” she said.

The Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation and Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium are currently providing support to the village. The Alaska Division of Homeland Security & Emergency is also aware of the situation, and is in talks to determine the level of the crisis and what kind of assistance the community may receive from the state.