The Material: Part of the existing water and sewage system in Kivalina is now 36 years old and therefore at the end of its expected life span.
Apart from that the pipe-line which connects the river with the water treatment plant when being re-filled is broken. This is a result of the most recent storm in the area happening in mid August 2012:
Water Turbidity: The Arctic Sounder about Wulik river on August 23rd, 2012: „That river spiked to 15,3 feet on Thursday, the highest level ever recorded since a river gauge was installed in 1985. It beat the previous record by more than three feet.“ Within their Declaration of Disaster the City of Kivalina describes the river „being very moody, with high turbidity“.
„What is turbidity? Dirty, muddy water. What causes it? High flow in the river. What are the possibilities of high flow? Teck’s [Mining Company] discharge at full speed ahead,” Janet Mitchell, City Administrator of Kivalina explains the problem on her website: www.kivalinacity.com. The Red Dog Zink Mine discharges into the water shed of Wulik river. See: Permit to Discharge
Another threat to the villages water access coming from heavy weather in the area are floods that reach the local land fill, a non managed 3,4 acre dump site where the residents bring all their solid and human waste.
Honeybuckets: Instead of flush toilets the people of Kivalina are dependent on so-called „Honeybuckets“: plastic buckets with a toilet seat – the human waste goes to a plastic bag that is being exchanged when full. Further Research
These used plastic bags can be seen in many places around Kivalina:
Some collect them before bringing a bunch of them together to the landfill:
Although some residents referred to a metal tank for the human waste, it was not possible to detect any waste separation during the site-visit of the dump on September, 1st 2012 neither in the metal tank nor the surrounding area.
Re-fillement of the water tanks is limited to a specific time-slot before freeze-up.