Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Sharing Environmental Health Practice in the North American Arctic: A Focus on Water and Wastewater Service

Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Sharing Environmental Health Practice in the North American Arctic: A Focus on Water and Wastewater Service

Article excerpt

* In a 1999 survey, 64 percent of water and wastewater utilities in rural Alaska were not collecting enough revenue to cover basic operational costs.

* The same survey found that no community had established a reserve fund to cover equipment replacement.

* In 2000, regulated Alaskan water systems had an average of 6.4 Safe Drinking Water Act violations.

* As of April 2005, 37 percent of Alaskan Tribal water systems were classified as significant noncompliers.

* Alaskans attribute these difficulties to

-- a harsh climate,

-- high costs for parts and consumables resulting from a lack of external road systems,

-- a limited ability to pay for sanitation services because of underemployment or unemployment,

-- a reduced revenue base and limited labor pool because of small community populations,

-- expensive and complex sanitation operations, and

-- small communities with limited capacity to support these operations.

Over the last half decade, a number of new challenges have arisen:

-- much higher heating-fuel prices;

-- more complex and costly drinking-water regulations;

-- reductions in the state's Power Cost Equalization subsidy;

-- increased sanitation system insurance costs;

-- reductions in government-provided capital projects funding;

-- termination of the Municipal Revenue Sharing Program;

-- a declining salmon-fishing industry that has resulted in less income for rural residents; and

-- decreased Permanent Fund Dividends, on which many Alaskans rely for income. …

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