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Alaska village gets potable water back after 1 month without

March 8, 2021 GMT

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — The people of the village of Tuluksak have potable running water back after over a month without it.

A fire destroyed the village’s water purification plant in January, KYUK-AM reported Friday.

Until the first week of March, residents relied on donations of bottled water.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation last Tuesday managed to restore drinking water by installing a reverse osmosis water filtration system, which is also known as RO.

“It goes through a series of filters to filter out any kind of contamination, and then it goes through an RO treatment, which further treats it,” said Cindy Christian, the project manager for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Drinking Water Program.

She added: “And then the water from the RO is going to be chlorinated so that it is disinfected, and it can be used for all purposes, including drinking water.”

Before the new system was installed, residents without bottled water had to collect and haul water or ice from the nearby Tuluksak River or the Kuskokwim River, which is farther away.

Residents in the past have complained about bad water quality from the Tuluksak River, even when it is boiled, KYUK-AM reported.

The reverse osmosis system is aimed at being a temporary solution until the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation can install a long-term system.

A temporary water purification plant will be needed to restore potable water to all water collection points in the village, the radio station reported.

“Reverse osmosis units are pretty energy intensive systems and their filters are very expensive to replace,” said YKHC Director of Environmental Health and Engineering Brian Lefferts. “And so by bringing this water treatment plant up to Tuluksak, we then can provide potable water to that entire system.”

The village will have to wait several years for a permanent structure to be put in place, but funding has been secured, the radio station reported.

The Indian Health Service announced last month that it would provide for the majority of the nearly $7 million replacement drinking water facility.