Seldovia residents can now do a few loads of laundry and shower on a normal schedule. The city on the southern Kenai Peninsula announced this week that there is no longer a water shortage. Now, residents are trying to repair the damage and plan for the future.
Things are getting back to normal for the roughly 500 people who live in the area. This week, the city’s reservoir returned to a healthy level. The city reinstated senior meals and the library is operating on a regular schedule.
But for some, recovery will take a while.
“So the damage was already done in August when it kind of tanked tourism,” said Jennifer Haerle, owner of Owl’s Nest, a convenience store.
Haerle said the fires on the peninsula in addition to the water shortage had a big impact on the store. She had to let go of one of her employees.
“I typically have someone year around and my hope is to have her back by the middle of October,” she said.
But she said she’s hiring the employee back because another employee is leaving not because of better business. And her business is not the only one that’s been hurt. Steve Bainbridge is a co-owner of the Seldovia Harbor Inn.
“I’m just hoping we do see some room rentals in October, November, December,” he said.
Bainbridge closed down his inn this month, and he shut down his café earlier than usual to conserve water.
He said that a group that made reservations to rent out his entire inn decided to relocate due to the water shortage.
“So that was the short term, one, two punch: closing the cafe, having the room reservations for that week after Labor Day canceled,” he said.
City officials said the water shortage was a wake-up call. City Manager Cassidi Cameron told KBBI in mid-September that they are working with the Kenai Peninsula Borough on a plan to prevent this from happening in the future.
“There’s the absolute need to do that,” she said. “What those pieces will look like: we’re still identifying.”
But there’s one obvious problem:
“And so we know that there’s leaks in that aging infrastructure,” she said.
The city will have representatives from the Alaska Rural Water Association to check for leaks in their system in late September. And even though the city is out of the woods for now, Cameron still wants residents to make efforts to conserve.
“Just know that water is required for life, but it’s not necessarily a guarantee,” she said.
The city’s neighboring village of Nanwalek is still under a boil water notice.