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Water levels back to normal, crisis over

 


Last week the City and Borough of Wrangell announced emergency measures no longer needed to be taken to conserve its treated water supply.

The announcement came on August 18, nearly a month after a state of disaster was declared by Mayor David Jack. The decision had been prompted by Public Works warning it could not treat water quickly enough to meet demand, due to problems with its 17-year-old plants filtration system.

The Assembly and city officials had met with local seafood processors – which together make up around half of overall demand during peak production – in a special meeting to discuss means for reducing their need for treated water. An appeal to homeowners and other businesses was also made to reduce consumption by 30 to 50 percent. The mayor was advised by the borough manager and police department to formally declare a state of emergency, both to highlight the issue in the public’s mind and to possibly seek assistance.

After Jack’s declaration, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Environmental Protection Agency declined to consider the city’s water shortage as a disaster, as the situation failed to meet criteria for assistance. But a temporary ban on water waste was established, with people urged to forgo watering their lawns, washing boats and cars, and other nonessential uses of the resource.

From its low point in early July, after the measures were adopted, treated water levels in the city’s reserve have improved, with its two tanks near capacity. Residents can resume their regular use of the utility, but are advised to continue to be conservative going forward. Depending on demand, a shortage can happen at any point even after the summer is over.

The city has been working with a previously contracted engineer to get more production out of its current treatment plant. CRW Engineering Group is currently conducting a small-scale pilot study at the treatment plant in order to test a new, hopefully more effective filtration method. But the city expects a new plant would likely take at least two or three years to design and put on line.

 

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