After 2 months, Koyuk still grappling with a lack of water

bottled water in Koyuk
Bottled water and buckets are being used at Koyuk Malimiut School. (Courtesy Koyuk Malimiut School)

This week marks two months since Koyuk has had running water on the west side of town. There is also a boil water notice on the east loop pending negative bacterial test results.

The Native Village of Koyuk said last month that the water failure is due to freezing conditions and the general age of the system. The loss of water is also affecting Koyuk Malimiut School; toilets are only being flushed if solid waste is present.

Koyuk City Clerk Tracey Kimoktoak said there is a plan to fix the system once temperatures warm up.

“For people to get water on the west side, Mother Nature needs to cooperate and let it get warmer,” Kimoktoak said. “Then we can get the heavy equipment working to dig the ground, get some repair clamps on the water main to repair the leaks, get the main lines jetted out, and make sure they’re clear. Then, fill it up with water, get it disinfected, and it will be available for consumption.”

Temperatures need to rise above freezing for work to begin. Work to fix the system could begin as soon as Friday or Saturday, according to Kimoktoak.

“I know it’s gonna get a lot warmer this weekend, so that’s when we’re looking at this project to get started again,” she said.

Maggie Otton, a longtime resident of Koyuk, added that she is lucky to live close by a source of water that can be hauled to her residence.

“They’re able to provide us, the elders anyway, with water. I’m really thankful because I’m an elder. I live close to the washeteria. People had to start hauling water and it’s kind of tedious, but we have to have that water,” Otton said.

In late March, Bering Straits Native Corporation donated 100 cases of drinking water to the city. Kawerak also donated water to those in need.

Though the community has a washeteria, it is hardly used because of its antiquated condition. It was built in the 1980s, and the building’s structure is now failing.

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