Borough issues disaster declaration for Nanwalek and Seldovia

Aug 30, 2019

Credit Courtesy of the Kenai Peninsula Borough

The Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor signed a temporary disaster declaration Thursday for two communities on the peninsula that are quickly running out of water. 

Seldovia and Nanwalek are on the southern peninsula and both communities rely on reservoirs that are drying up due to lack of rainfall and low snowpack. 

Dan Nelson is the emergency manager for the Kenai Peninsula Borough. He said the borough’s declaration will open up resources. 

“Resources like this could mean things like technical expertise, engineering, hydrologists, those types of folks that can help us plan to get through this drought situation and give us the best recommendations on how to proceed," he said. 

He said it may be possible for the borough to barge in water to the communities, which are only accessible by plane or boat. Seldovia and Nanwalek each supply water to roughly 250 people. 

“If water runs out, it's very likely that we'll address the short term solution as far as bottled water and those types of things,” he said. “Since this is a fairly new scenario, we don't have the planning as of yet.”

The declaration also asks the governor to issue a similar emergency declaration at the state level.

For Nanwalek tribal administrator, Gwen Kvasnikoff, the borough’s declaration is a huge relief. The water supply in the village may run out as soon as this weekend and the village has been relying on help from local nonprofits and Alaska Native corporations.

“I'm glad that they finally acted upon the situation that's happening here,” she said. “It's getting a little bit nervous here and there, but we're handling it the best that we can.”

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will vote on a resolution to extend the emergency declaration at its meeting this upcoming Tuesday.