Feb 09, 2021

Governor Issues Emergency Declaration for Tuluksak, Alaska, Water Crisis

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued a disaster declaration for the village of Tuluksak, Alaska.

alaska water supply

On Feb. 8, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued a disaster declaration for the village of Tuluksak, Alaska.

This is due to a fire in Tuluksak that destroyed the village’s washateria and water plant building, the village’s only source of drinking water.

Residents of Tuluksak have been drinking bottled water donated by private citizens and businesses, reported Alaska Public Media. The governor issued the declaration and freed up $1 million in state relief funds to mitigate the issue.

“Today the governor has verbally issued a disaster declaration for Tuluksak. The declaration will open up public assistance,” said Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe, Commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, reported Alaska Public Media.

According to Paul Nelson, the director of the state Div. of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the funds will go toward reimbursing agencies such as the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, which has been fronting payments for initial infrastructure construction.

Nelson maintains that the state took this long to respond because they needed more time to assess the situation and that immediate response is reserved for life-threatening emergencies.

“To declare disaster immediately when an event happens is usually only reserved for when the community is utterly overwhelmed. And there is an imminent or immediate life threat,” Nelson said, reported Alaska Public Media.

The tribe already filed a request for a permanent water plant and washateria with the federal Indian Health Service, according to Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Spokesperson Jeremy Zidek.

“A new water plant could take three to four years. Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. plans to install a portable treatment plant as a stop-gap, but that will take weeks or months to get in place,” Zidek said, reported Alaska Public Media.

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