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Newtok Planning Group

Newtok Relocation News

Mertarvik, October 2019
Mertarvik, October 2019. Photo: Ukpeagvik Iñupiat Corporation (UIC)

Quarterly Relocation Updates

After nearly two decades of planning and pioneer development, the first Newtok residents moved to Mertarvik in October 2019

During the summer of 2019, the Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program and Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation Construction (UICC) completed critical infrastructure at Mertarvik to support the first full-time residents, 21 households with 140 adults and children (about one-third of Newtok's population), who moved from Newtok to Mertarvik in October 2019.

The new infrastructure includes:

  • 13 new homes designed by the Cold Climate Housing Research Center and constructed by the IRT in collaboration with UICC. This brought the total number of homes at Mertarvik to 21.
  • Portable Alternative Sanitation Systems (PASS) installed in the 13 new homes and 8 homes constructed in previous years.
  • A pioneering water and sewer system for the Mertarvik Evacuation Center (MEC). UICC constructed the modular water plant in Anchorage and shipped it to Mertarvik by barge. UICC installed a membrane bioreactor (MBR) system to provide temporary sewage treatment for Mertarvik. The system, comprised of an MBR module and supporting arctic piping, treats sewage generated by the MEC pioneering school and NVC construction camp before effluent is discharged into the Baird Inlet. A representative from LifeWater filmed a training session on MBR operations and provided the film to the Newtok Village Council for future Mertarvik operator training.
  • A water treatment plant for village water supply. Field construction of the water plant will take place in September.
  • Electrical distribution system and power plant commissioned by Alaska Energy Authority and constructed by UICC. UICC completed construction of the modular power plant at their Anchorage yard and shipped the completed facility to Mertarvik by barge in August. Field construction of the power plant will begin in September. In July, Newtok power plant operator Xavier John visited Anchorage for a tour of the new modular facility as well as introductory operations and maintenance training.
  • A landfill built by the IRT, excavation for the trenches began in June and was finished in July, and fencing was completed in August. UIC Construction began using the landfill in August.
  • Townsite roads built by UICC and IRT using gravel produced by Brice, Inc. at the quarry east of the town site. In late May and early June, the quarry road, which serves as the emergency landing strip for aircraft, was extended and widened to accommodate Medivac planes. The IRT began work on the townsite roads in early June. The lower road and most of the middle road to access existing buildings was completed before the last IRT crew departed in late-August.
  • A pioneering school facility at the Mertarvik Evacuation Center (MEC). School opened at Mertarvik on October 14 and classes were held at the MEC in late November. The MEC will serve as a temporary school until the Lower Kuskokwim School District receives funding to build a dedicated school building. Four teachers, two who teach in English and two who teach in Yugtun (Yup'ik language), moved from Newtok’s school to provide educational continuity.
  • A pioneering bulk fuel facility designed by HDL Engineering will serve as a pioneering bulk fuel facility with sufficient storage for the next several years as the community grows. Upcoming construction to the fuel farm includes placing two new fuel tanks with re-use of existing fuel containment, and installing tank appurtenances, piping, and spill response equipment on the two existing and two new tanks. The pioneering bulk fuel farm will have a total capacity of over 87,000 gallons. Fuel will be transferred from the facility and distributed for end users by two fuel tank trailers.
  • A temporary health clinic was designed by the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC) to serve Mertarvik residents through the first years of relocation. This fall, the NVC-owned construction camp cafeteria will be renovated to serve as the pioneering health clinic in Mertarvik. The health clinic will contain an exam room, pharmacy, urgent care room, bathroom and office.

Contact for More Information

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) 269-4563