Sewer Service Restored To Emmonak

Nov 18, 2016

YKHC staff and RMWs working to fix Emmonak's damaged vacuum pump.
Credit Adrian Wagner / KYUK

Emmonak’s damaged sewer system, which left hundreds without service this week, has been jump-started. 

On Thursday night, a team from the Yukon Kuskokwim Heath Corporation (YKHC) and the State of Alaska's Remote Maintenance Worker (RMW) Program, managed to begin restoring the utility service.  

YKHC Director of Environmental Health and Engineering Brian Lefferts directed the effort, and says RMW saved the day.

“We often joke that it stands for 'real miracle worker'," said Lefferts. 

Lefferts says that they got the system running again Thursday night after patching it together with help from local workers in Emmonak. The village can, after a week, drain its many full tubs and toilets.

Though the fix of the pump is only a temporary one until contractors can install new ones, Lefferts says that this means schools and the village's health clinic will be able to reopen. The pump will remain under 24-hour watch to make sure it doesn’t overheat and cause another fire.

“Keep in mind we got this old pump with cobbled together parts that we have to keep a 24-hour watch on. It could potentially fail again," said Lefferts. 

The pump is now doing twice the work that the burned pump was doing when it caught fire, but Lefferts says they’re turning the pump off every few hours when it begins to overheat. For now, Lefferts says “a catastrophe has been avoided.”