KAKE (AP) -- Workers in Kake have jury rigged a way to temporarily replenish their water supply, but the makeshift system won't replace the town's breached dam.
''We worked two days and nights getting pumps set into the stream,'' said Mayor Lonnie Anderson. Workers built a wooden box to collect water in rushing Gunnuck Creek -- the same stream sent logs smashing into the aging wooden dam earlier this week.
By Friday morning, about 600,000 gallons was stored in a holding tank -- about the town's normal water usage for one day during the summer.
The water will need to be boiled because the town's water system has been dry since Tuesday.
And if the weather improves and the stream level falls, the pumps won't be able to pull water from the undammed stream, Anderson said.
''We have a Band-Aid approach,'' Anderson said.
Meanwhile, workers at the town's fish processing plant can get back to work on Saturday, Anderson said.
Anderson's more concerned about the town's long-term future.
The dam supplied water to a new chum salmon hatchery, the community's economic lifeblood. The salmon processing plant also demands a reliable water source -- one that won't run dry if next June and July bring weeks of sunshine and low stream levels.
Anderson says he's appealed to state and federal officials for help in rebuilding or replacing the dam.
''We are pursuing every angle that we can on that,'' Anderson said. ''The word is out that we need a long-term fix.''
State dam safety officials have rejected the idea of temporary repairs as too dangerous. The structure was built in the 1950s and has been out of compliance with state dam safety regulations for several years.
Bob King, press secretary for Gov. Tony Knowles, said state officials were meeting Friday to determine whether to declare Kake a disaster area. Such a declaration would open the door for state and federal aid.
The loss of the dam could also turn into a loss for Kake's hatchery. The nonprofit Gunnuck Creek Hatchery owes the state $11 million, and has yet to make a loan payment.
This year enough salmon returned to the hatchery to cover operating expenses and make a $250,000 loan payment, general manager Steve Andison said.
Now it looks like the hatchery will be able to keep alive the 18 million salmon eggs it's collected, but probably won't be able to gather the 65 million Andison had been pinning his hopes on. There's not enough water to keep the eggs alive, he said.
Fish processing is the only sustainable, long-term employment base Kake has. Some 90 percent of that business is founded on hatchery returns, Andison said.
Even if the water starts flowing again soon, Andison said, pretty much the entire town has lost a week's worth of pay.
Meanwhile, another worry looms. In late fall, Andison said, rains in Kake get heavier. Water could back up behind the damaged dam and result in a catastrophe.
''We may have to remove the dam to remove the danger,'' he said.
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