After nearly a month, Hooper Bay has plugged the 40-foot hole in its sewage lagoon

An aerial view of a plume of sewage covering a large area of snow outside a sewage lagoon
Hooper Bay’s sewage lagoon was leaking onto the surrounding tundra. (Photo courtesy of Paul Galvez/Lower Yukon School District)

After nearly a month, Hooper Bay’s sewage lagoon has finally stopped leaking out onto the tundra. Hooper Bay City Administrator Sandra Tall-Lake said that by March 21, city workers had put enough sand into the hole in the sewage lagoon to stop the flow of sewage leaking out.

It’s taken so long because the hole is large — 40 feet wide by 15 feet tall — requiring a lot of sand to fill it. Plus, city employees had trouble plowing a path through heavy snow to the beach to get enough sand.

An excavator on top of fresh dirt
Hooper Bay workers have stopped the flow of sewage onto the surrounding tundra. (Courtesy of Sandra Tall-Lake/City of Hooper Bay)

Hooper Bay residents have also continued to run water and flush their toilets in the last month because, as Tall-Lake pointed out, the community’s pipes would freeze if residents stopped using them.

The sewage has been flowing into a slough, an important subsistence location for the coastal community. But because of that, the city administrator said that the spill on the tundra hasn’t gotten bigger. Tall-Lake said that city workers will continue placing sandbags in the hole this week. It won’t completely fill the hole because the community doesn’t have enough sand.

Hooper Bay’s long-term solution will be to build a new sewage lagoon, which is expected to be completed in around three years. Tall-Lake said that the city did not yet have a plan for what to do with the existing lagoon in the meantime.

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