households in Chiniak are facing a water shortage after the school district
shut off a spigot that had been some people's only water source.
water was turned off Wednesday after the district had been advised by the state
Department of Environmental Conservation that providing public water would
require the district to chemically treat the water, said Scott Williams, the
school's director of operations. The water is currently filtered and treating
it would likely cost the district between $10,000 and $20,000 a year, he said.
not clear how many households were dependent on the water that had run from the
school to a spigot outside the community tsunami shelter. Some residents have catchment
systems others are said to completely rely on hauling buckets to their homes.
resident John Miller has a catchment system that harnesses rainwater but says recent
cold weather had reduced its flow and he'd been among a half-dozen households
that regularly drew water from the spigot.
said the school district hadn't been aware that so many people relied on the
system. "We had no indication," he said.
videoconference held between officials from the school district, borough and some
community members Wednesday ended with all parties saying they're looking for
positive solutions. Miller remarked that the meeting "went very well."
Manager Rick Gifford says the borough is consulting with the DEC to see what
legal options are available to provide water in the short-term. Other long-term
solutions include drilling a deepwater well for the community and establishing
a service area for the community. But all sides agree that won't happen any
time soon, especially while the ground is frozen and too hard for digging.