By Heidi Zemach for SCN
The Alutiiq Pride Shelfish Hatchery, the structure nearest to the Lowell Point Creek and waterfall, “dodged a bullet” this year, and remained secure, despite getting some water into the building, said Jeff Hetrick, the hatchery director . “Now, we’re just doing gravel removal and cleanup around the facility.”
Alutiiq Pride is the nearest facility to the waterfall. It’s only about 200 feet from the creek, and roughly 300 feet from the waterfall’s outflow. The noisy Caterpillar machines spent days and nights working just outside their door, trying to keep water flowing under the bridge.
The hatchery is currently raising King crab, sea cucumbers, Geoducks and oysters. Most of them survived. Hetrick credits Rollins Apperson, from the Seward Marine Science Center, who helped block off a window on the waterfall side of the facility, for keeping the hatchery safe. The facility avoided getting any major gravel into it, although it still is surrounded by gravel on all sides.
The biggest problem they had to tackle was the constant flow of silt/gravel clogging their water filtration system, after being sucked into their fresh water intake pipe. The filters would clog up again just a couple of minutes after being removed, washed, and replaced, he said.
In response, the hatchery reduced the incoming flow, and went on life support for four or five days during the worst part of the storm, allowing no new water into the facility. The hatchery managed to return to their filtered intake water last weekend, Hetrick said. Some carpet and a few of their front loaders also got soaked, but all in all, damage to the hatchery wasn’t nearly as bad as the severe flooding that occurred there six years ago, Hetrick said.
The Alaska SeaLife Center lost its freshwater well house which is located near the waterfall said ASLC President and CEO Dr. Tara Riemer Jones. Their salt water intake system is fine, but they did have high levels of silt coming in from the bay. They learned from experience during the ’06 floods how to mitigate that, she said.
The well provides fresh water for the eider program during breeding season, and for certain fish at certain times of the year. The well also was seriously damaged in the 2006 flood. It cost $160,000 to fix, and state and federal disaster funds paid most of that cost, said Operations Director Darryl Schaefermeyer. Getting it back soon will be a top priority for the center.
“The eiders can use over 400 gallons a minute at certain times of the year so it’s important thing to us,” said Schaefermeyer. “We had similar outcome in 2006 flood. So we’re dealing with pretty much the same thing.”
The center’s marine life requires de-chlorinated water, so they could not use city water. ASLC managed by bringing water in from the well site themselves, bypassing the pipeline, he said. ASLC has some holding tanks in the building that can hold 13,000 gallons of water. The true extent of the damage to ASLC infrastructure, such as to their supply pumps, wet well, sand filter media and pipeline, and their cost, has yet to be determined, Schaefermeyer said.