Alaska’s Ouzinkie reservoir drained after breach

OUZINKIE, Alaska — A small Spruce Island community is relying on large, expensive generators to provide power and drinking water after a breach at the Mahoona Lake dam.

Officials in the community of Ouzinkie are racing to find funding to replace the dam.

The state Department of Natural Resources forced the level of the reservoir lower last year because of rotting wood.

Now, heavy storms late last month forced the city to drain the reservoir.

“While lowering the level of the dam can temporarily relieve the pressure behind the structure the bypass and spillway have demonstrated an inability to handle major precipitation events meaning that as long as the dam is still in place there is still a potential for catastrophic failure that can result in the loss of infrastructure and possibly life in the flood zone below the dam,” Mayor Dan Clarion said in an email to the Kodiak Daily Mirror.

The city has planned a replacement for some time, but it lacks a good chunk of the $1.5 million price tag.

“We need about $350,000 more,” he said. “We’re just frantically trying to secure the funding.”

Construction to replace the dam was to have started this summer, Clarion said. He hopes that schedule can be moved up in light of the most recent breach, if funding can be secured.

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