Cordova Food, Energy, Water Connections

December 3, 2019 0 By William Morgan

We’re here at the Humpback Creek Hydroelectric Site This produces about 15% of the community of Cordova’s power Electric power with renewable energy The lower cost of that energy And, the stable cost of that energy Has allowed our fish processing industry to make investments In their fish processing capacity They’ve been bringing more and more fish onshore To the community of Cordova to process it And, that generates raw fish tax revenues This hydroelectric energy here is $0.06 per kilowatt hour We’ve gone from using almost 2 million gallons of diesel fuel per year It can been as much as $8-10 million in fuel expense for the community a year To as little as 450,000 gallons of diesel fuel a year a few years ago Cordova is a commercial fishing town, period. Commercial fisheries has been the mainstay of this community Cordova, Prince William Sound Has one of the largest salmon fisheries in the state We’re home in neighboring to the fabled Copper River Salmon Fishery And, in Prince William Sound they’re some of the largest salmon hatchery programs in the state Water security by and large has been pretty good We do have periods of time in the year when water use Is really high. That’s typically when the processing plants are processing fish In some years, this year For example, in part of the fall we had an extremely dry month That dry month this year in September Was when some fish were returning to streams to spawn And, what some of our research crews were seeing were that Fish weren’t able to get to the upper reaches of streams where you might normally see them spawning Because the streams didn’t have enough water in them. We think we don’t have to worry about water security because we live in the rainforest I think in terms of rain precipitation 170-180 inches a year, so water quantity Is not quite so much of an issue But the big question with climate change is How much water Are we going to get in the future as rain versus snowmelt runoff? My family is on city water, yes. We’re happy with it, we have Really good water quality here What we notice is that when water gets low here And they switch us from a reservoir system to a lake water system We notice a difference in water quality That’s in times of year when water access is low And, we prefer our reservoirs We’ve been getting water here for our family for the last 15 years or so Great little fountain that flows out the side of a mountain It’s kind of a novel thing to get your water from a pipe That sticks out of a rock And, we like the water. Delicious, tasty, healthy water. My name is Rachel Hoover and I have a business called Darling’s Ferments I make sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha here in town It’s so expensive to make Things here in this town Just the produce alone for each batch is about $300 Just getting it into town costs a lot of money Unfortunately, only about 25% Of my product that I use is from Cordova. I pay just a flat rate of $0.75 on the pound We don’t have any commercial gardens For cabbages mostly, and onions, carrots. We’re pulling out the carrots! So, once they’re pulled out we can eat them Well, first we need to wash them. Yeah, yeah. We started a program called Garden Buddies, and after school program Where we meet once a week for about 2 months in the springtime And we do a lot of starts for the garden It’s kind of fun to plant It’s also fun to eat the vegetables and the fruit that we grow Food security, it’s a very tenuous issue for us We don’t generate locally substantial amounts of the food products that people consume Other than protein. We hunt moose and deer, Fish for the salmon and halibut In the wintertime there’s winter kings There’s a lot to harvest and gather off the land around here That probably saves a lot of people a lot of money I think the fact that we have hydropower available locally Which reduces our energy costs to some degree Is making it more appealing and feasible For people to write business plans To start businesses that are going to be growing food locally Such as hydroponic projects that are using container vans to grow food And, you see projects like that in other parts of Alaska, and they’re now On the cusp of becoming a reality in Cordova, as well Hydropower is really critical in keeping our power costs down in Cordova And, in months that are extremely dry Such as this past fall We notice a difference in our power prices and it’s palpable.