Water Tank with Pipe

Water and Sewage System

The following section focuses on the system of water supply and waste water treatment in Kivalina based on an on-site research, done between August, 27th and September 3rd 2012: 


Kivalina relies on water coming from the Wulik River. The water is being collected about 2 and a half miles upstream. Usually the water tanks are being refilled once a year, in July or August before school starts. There is a pump station that is currently not working due to a flooding after a storm that also caused part of the pipe system to fall apart. The entire system is about 36 years old.

The following image shows the mouth of the river which empties into a lagoon east of the village:


The water taken from the river needs to be pumped to two water tanks. The water treatment plant, located right next to tank holds a water collection station. That is where residents get the water they need. It operates on a slot machine (25ct. for 5 Gallon). Other sources of portable are listed here.

One-third of residents have tanks, which provide running water for the kitchen, but homes are not fully plumbed,“ according to the Local Hazards Mitigation Plan (2007)

Still, these small tanks need to be re-filled regularly. On the left you see such an individual system at the local store. Grey water from the housing units is spilled outdoor, no approval of any collection system could be found.

The local clinic has a big water tank with a pump within their facilities (running water and flush toilets), their sewage goes to a septic tank.  The school and the washeteria are the only two buildings in town that are connected to the water tanks: 

The sewage of the school is treated by 36 year old purification system which drains into the ocean.  On-site this pipe could be found at the beach, west of the school.

In the washeteria the residents of Kivalina have access to 4 washing machines and 3 dryers, 2 showers and 2 toilets. The facility is open between 12 and 5 pm. The city wants to extend the opening hours though this is not possible due to lack of water and money. The use of the facilities at the washeteria are at cost: One shower is 3 US-Dollars, a load for the washing machine 7 US-Dollars, for the dryer 10 US-Dollars. People gave slightly different numbers on the prices which indicates a fluctuating prize systemThe sewage from the washeteria goes to a holding tank into a drain field. The following image shows one of the Water Tanks, the Water Treatment Plant and Washeteria (green building on the right) with the two accesses to the holding tank:




Janet Mitchell, Kivalina City Administrator, names an average income of 44.000 to 60.000 US-Dollars per year for the City through the Washeteria, and through the water sell (residents are charged a quarter for 5 gallons of water) the city makes between 500 and 600 US-Dollar per months.

City Officials told that re-fillment is between 20.000 to 30.000 US-Dollars. The Arctic Sounder says: „The community would normally pay to fill up the water tanks with revenue from a local bingo game held for adults. But a petition circulated earlier in the year led to the city´s bingo permit being revoked in July, according to the city website. That meant that the money that would normally got to filling the tanks with clean water wasn´t available […]“. Published on 23rd of August, page 14.

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