ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ Residents of a tiny interior Alaska will no longer have to cross a river to obtain potable water.
The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the Tanana Chiefs Conference have installed a temporary water-filtration system in Alatna, a village of 27 about 190 miles northwest of Fairbanks, Anchorage television station KTUU (http://bit.ly/1bS79MH) reported.
A fire April 15 in a boiler room destroyed the village’s water-treatment facility, washeteria and clinic. Residents were forced to cross the frozen Koyukuk River to haul water five miles from Allakaket. Gov. Bill Walker on April 26 declared a state disaster in the community.
Mike Roberts, senior engineering project manager at Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, said responders wanted to give Alatna access to clean water before the Koyukuk River broke up.
“Alatna’s one of a few communities in the state that don’t have any way to fly in, there’s really no way to get in unless you cross the Koyukuk River. So during breakup they can’t safely take their boats back and forth,” Roberts said. “The first main priority was to get some sort of potable water in the community.”
The tribal consortium used emergency funds from the Indian Health Service to help cover the cost, Roberts said.
The burned building was not insured. The replacement cost will be about $500,000. The disaster declaration allows state emergency funding to assist with replacement costs.
“That opens the state’s emergency funds to help us rebuild that community,” Roberts said.
The goal is to have the new facility completed by winter, he said.