City to Update Birch St. Water and Sewer System

logo-w-sunburstKayla Desroches/KMXT

A piece of Kodiak’s history is buried beneath the ground in the form of pipes.

City public works director Mark Kozak says the water and sewer system in the Aleutian Homes is from the original 1950s construction, and the city has been slowly rebuilding in that area since 2006.

The Kodiak City Public Works Department is now looking at the Birch St. part of its project. Kozak says, like the rest of the system, the water and sewer main on Birch St. is made from asbestos cement.

He says that was a popular material through the ‘50s and into the early ‘70s.

“The Aleutian Homes from the mid ‘50s was built from it. All of downtown. Anything that hasn’t been replaced since the rebuilding after the tidal wave is asbestos cement, and the most of Mission Rd. It was the common pipe of the era.”

Despite the negative affiliation with the word, Kozak says it’s performed well in the community.

“The one drawback to it is if it does fail, it tends to be a rather large failure, and that’s what initiated a lot of the reconstruction that has occurred even going back to the early ‘80s within the community is that systematic approach to try to upgrade and replace that pipe system.”

He says it’s been slow going because it’s a massive system and it’s expensive to replace. The city’s plan is to replace the pipes beneath Birch St. and then rebuild the street itself. Kozak says the project is designed and certified, and now it just needs the funding.

He says the city applied for an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation grant in the fall, which they failed to win, and will try again for that same grant in the summer.

Once the city completes Birch Street, Kozak says it’ll move onto Hemlock, Pine Crescent, Fir, and Carolyn St.

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