Construction of new Toolik water intake to begin in August

July 18, 2023

Marin Kuizenga

graphical model of where the new intake system will be installed
Figure by Ben Toth/Polar Field Services
Toolik Field Station's new water intake line will be installed with an excavating, drawing surface water from at least 2 meters depth, year round.

On August 8, extensive construction of a new water intake system will begin at Toolik Field Station. The construction will last until late September and is not expected to have major negative impacts on research or the Toolik environment. 

Water is critical for many Toolik operations. All of the station’s water is withdrawn from Toolik Lake and treated on-site under the guidance of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. 

In 2022, the well that serves as our primary intake source started experiencing problems,  including silting which clogged filters and slowed the flow of water. This winter, the National Science Foundation approved and funded a replacement water intake system from within the lake, which will be constructed in August 2023. 

Toolik Field Station and Battelle Arctic Research Operations (ARO) do not anticipate any downtime for the Toolik water system. However the construction work, located northwest of the sauna, will be high profile and includes excavation of a temporary trench into Toolik Lake to install a new intake pipe. 

The Toolik management team and steering committee have worked with the engineers and construction team to assure that there is as little disruption to research, recreation and Toolik Lake as possible. Several mitigation measures will be in place to limit the impact on the lake and research activities, including wood matting to limit damage as equipment travels over the tundra on the station’s pad and a silt curtain in the lake to constrain increased suspended sediment loads. 

We anticipate the following construction schedule:

August 8 Battelle ARO construction crew arrives on site
August 10-14 Site prep begins - lay out path for excavator, install silt fence in lake
August 12 Excavator arrives
August 14-18 Excavate in lake for water intake and install pipe
August 17-28 Backfill lake trench; prepare pump house location and build foundation.
August 28-September 15 Assemble pump house building, electrical and plumbing for water system
September 16 Test system and prepare for commissioning
September17- 20 Begin cleaning site and remove silt barriers
September 18 Commissioning
September 21 Battelle ARO scheduled departure


For more information, contact Toolik’s program administrator, Marin Kuizenga, 907-474-7641,