BETHEL, Alaska — Officials said the erosion in Newtok will be so bad in three years it may erode the foundation of many of the Alaska village’s homes and school buildings.
The Lower Kuskokwim School District has included the cost of building and moving to a new location on higher ground away from tidal waters in its six-year plan.
It is the first step to getting the project on the state’s capital spending list, KYUK-TV reported (http://bit.ly/2smb4h4 ).
Project Manager Ryan Butte said work is expected to begin this summer on building new houses in Mertarvik, an inland community on higher ground. But Butte said the school district needs to have at least 10 students at the new location to provide educational services. Even then, it will be a portable school room.
“And it would be an extension of the Ayaprun School in Newtok,” Butte said. “For these transitional years, the Newtok School will have a portable classroom some distance away.”
There are 127 students attending school in Newtok. The Lower Kuskokwim School District expects the creation of a new village at Mertarvik will not take place all in one year.
“The new village site is in a new untouched site,” Butte said. “So everything has to be developed. Water infrastructure, sewer, electricity, fuel storage, power plant generation. None of that exists.”
The question remains whether resources can be found to move Newtok and its school before the erosion driven by warming oceans and climate change washes it away.