Nanwalek children went back to school Thursday after a water main broke in the village. That left the school without water, leading it to close for three days. John Kvasnikoff is the chief of Nanwalek, and he said once residents noticed signs of the break late last week, the village maintenance professional addressed it quickly.
“He turned off the water so it doesn’t drain our tank because a leak like that, if it goes unnoticed for a very long time, it’ll drain our whole tank,” he said. “We have two tanks for the village and our little dam… so it doesn't take long to use it up.”
Several village residents also went without water in their homes for days. Kvasnikoff says it was the pipe’s old age that made it take it longer to fix.
“For this particular break in the line, the size and the line they use there, not really parts that were ready, not even made anymore,” he said. “I had to do a little searching to find the right parts.”
He estimates the pipes are from the early 1980s and he said this isn't the first time the village has dealt with the issue. Breakdowns such as these have been commonplace in recent years.
“When they get old, there's places where it'll break and we can't keep putting a band aid on them, but that's what we've been having to do,” he said. “Fix one, sometimes it will break somewhere else. I wouldn’t say constantly but we have a lot of breaks in our lines.”
Kvasnikoff says the village has been working with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to replace the existing water and sewer lines and he hopes the system will be replaced in the near future.