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The Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development offices are closed to the public at this time. We are still open for business and encourage you to contact us via phone or email.

Newtok Planning Group

Mertarvik Water/Sewer Infrastructure


Mertarvik Water/Sewer Study Reports

Planning for water and sewer systems at Mertarvik is critical to efficient, orderly development at Mertarvik. Because homes at Newtok are not plumbed for water and wastewater, the ability to have these amenities at Mertarvik is extremely important to the community. The community has been considering alternative systems that that residents can operate and maintain.

Portable Alternative Sanitation System (PASS)

PASS units will be installed in 8 existing and 13 new homes in Mertarvik in Summer 2019. PASS provides in home water storage and treatment, running water for hand washing, and waste-separating toilets. They will be used in Mertarvik’s homes before piped water and sewer is supplied to the community. In PASS’s separating toilet, liquid waste is diverted to a seepage pit and solid waste is dried through an integrated ventilation system, reducing odors and allowing disposal in the landfill. This system is not considered a replacement for a piped water system, but rather will provide basic sanitation needs: handwashing, and improved human waste disposal until funding for running water is secured.

PASS Unit Sketch Drawing: ANTHC

Mertarvik Water Wells

Mertarvik is blessed with a pristine ground water source and topography that lends itself well to gravity-fed water and sewer systems. Engineers have suggested that locating the base of the community water storage tank at least 150 feet above the elevation of the foundation of the highest home in the village would allow for a completely gravity-driven water distribution system that will provide sufficient pressure (60 psi at the highest point of the system) for residential use. Once the water from the community well is pumped up to the storage tank, there will be no electrical requirements.

Two wells drilled at Mertarvik indicate there may not be a need for a water treatment plant. The well water is high quality as the levels of Primary Inorganic Chemical Contaminants are all below the regulatory standard. Since this is a ground water source, the distribution system may not need to be chlorinated either.

Mertarvik test well

The first test well drilled at Mertarvik. Photo: Sally Russell Cox

Mertarvik Drill Riggs

Drill rigs near the Mertarvik Evacuation Center. Photo: Bob Lundell, DOT/PF


For more information contact:

Sally Russell Cox

Division of Community and Regional Affairs
Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1650
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 269-4588
FAX: (907) 269-4066
Email:sally.cox@alaska.gov