Location and Climate
Valdez is located on the north shore of Port Valdez, a deep water fjord in Prince William Sound. It lies 305 road miles east of Anchorage, and 364 road miles south of Fairbanks. It is the southern terminus of the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline. The community lies at approximately 61.130830° North Latitude and -146.348330° West Longitude. (Sec. 32, T008S, R006W, Copper River Meridian.) Valdez is located in the Valdez Recording District. The area encompasses 222.0 sq. miles of land and 55.1 sq. miles of water. January temperatures range from 21 to 30; July temperatures are 46 to 61. Annual precipitation is 62 inches. The average snowfall is, incredibly, 325 inches (27 feet) annually.
History, Culture and Demographics
The Port of Valdez was named in 1790 by Don Salvador Fidalgo for the celebrated Spanish naval officer Antonio Valdes y Basan. Due to its excellent ice-free port, a town developed in 1898 as a debarkation point for men seeking a route to the Eagle Mining District and the Klondike gold fields. Valdez soon became the supply center of its own gold mining region, and incorporated as a City in 1901. Fort Liscum was established in 1900, and a sled and wagon road was constructed to Fort Egbert in Eagle by the U.S. Army. The Alaska Road Commission further developed the road for automobile travel to Fairbanks; it was completed by the early 1920s. A slide of unstable submerged land during the 1964 earthquake destroyed the original City waterfront, killing several residents. The community was rebuilt on a more stable bedrock foundation 4 miles to the west. During the 1970s, construction of the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline terminal and other cargo transportation facilities brought rapid growth to Valdez. In March 1989, it was the center for the massive oil-spill cleanup after the "Exxon Valdez" disaster. In a few short days, the population of the town tripled.
The population of the community consists of 10.2% Alaska Native or part Native. As a result of significant oil taxation revenues, the City offers a variety of quality public services. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 1,645, and vacant housing units numbered 151. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 46. U.S. Census data for Year 2000 showed 2,076 residents as employed. The unemployment rate at that time was 6.2 percent, although 30.64 percent of all adults were not in the work force. The median household income was $66,532, per capita income was $27,341, and 6.2 percent of residents were living below the poverty level.
Facilities, Utilities, Schools and Health Care
Water is derived from four primary wells and is stored in five 750,000-gal. reservoirs prior to piped distribution throughout Valdez. Water storage capacity is 2.24 million gallons. The sewage treatment plant is capable of processing 1.25 million gallons a day. Sewage is deposited in a secondary treatment lagoon. Over 95% of homes are fully plumbed. Many homes use individual wells and septic tanks. The Class 2 landfill uses a balefill system. An oil and hazardous waste recycling center was completed in 1998. Copper Valley Electric purchases power from the Four Dam Pool Power Agency and the Petro Star Refinery, and owns diesel plants in Glennallen and Valdez. Electricity is provided by Copper Valley Electric Assoc. There are 4 schools located in the community, attended by 866 students. Local hospitals or health clinics include Valdez Community Hospital (907-835-2249); Valdez Native Tribe Clinic (907-835-4951). The hospital is a qualified Acute Care facility. Long Term Care: Sourdough Place. Valdez is classified as a large town/Regional Center, it is found in EMS Region 2F in the Prince William Sound Region. Emergency Services have helicopter, marine and airport access. Emergency service is provided by 911 Telephone Service and paid EMS Service Auxiliary health care is provided by Valdez Fire Dept/EMS (835-4560 x301).
Economy and Transportation
Valdez has one of the highest municipal tax bases in Alaska as the southern terminus and off-loading point of oil extracted from Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope. Four of the top ten employers in Valdez are directly connected to the oil terminus. Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. employs nearly 300 persons. Valdez is a major seaport, with a $48 million cargo and container facility. City, state, and federal agencies combined provide significant employment. 49 residents hold commercial fishing permits. Three fish processing plants operate in Valdez, including Peter Pan and Seahawk Seafoods. Valdez Fisheries Dev. Assoc. will open its year-round processing facility in October 2003. 7 cruise ships will dock in Valdez in 2004. Valdez is a Foreign Free Trade Zone.
The Richardson Highway connects Valdez to Anchorage, Fairbanks and Canada. Port Valdez is ice-free year round and is navigated by hundreds of ocean-going oil cargo vessels each year. The State Ferry provides transport to Whittier, Cordova, Kodiak, Seward and Homer in the summer; Cordova only in the winter. Valdez has the largest floating concrete dock in the world, with a 1,200' front and water depth exceeding 80'. Numerous cargo and container facilities are present in Valdez. A small harbor accommodates 546 commercial fishing boats and recreational vessels. Boat launches and haul-out services are available. Both barges and trucking services deliver cargo to the City. The airport is operated by the state, with a 6,500' long by 150' wide paved runway, instrument landing system and control tower. A State-owned seaplane base is available at Robe Lake.