Alaska Water and Sewer Challenge (AWSC)

Project Highlights

NEW - 2016 April 21st – Water Reuse Session at the AWWMA Conference
AWSC Teams and members of the Steering Committee participated in an all-day track dedicated to onsite water reuse. Teams were joined by Guy Carpenter from the WateReuse Association, Chad Seidel from the EPA funded DeRISK Center at the University of Colorado Boulder and representatives from “Dump The Bucket” - an effort led by the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation. Click on the right to access a compilation of presentation slides from this session.

2015 December 8th - Launching Phase 3 of the AWSC
At a public event, ADEC’s Village Safe Water Program announced the beginning of Phase 3. Access the presentation slides here: Public Presentation held in Anchorage, AK on December 8th, 2015

The top three selected proposals will be developed into prototypes to be monitored and tested for 9 months according to technical specifications provided by ADEC. Three months after pilot testing has ended, each team will submit a Final Report. All final reports are expected by the end of summer 2017. Access an overview and schematics of the three pilot systems here: Description of the Three Proposed Systems (2015-09-03)

2016 AWWMA Water Reuse PDF

View pictures of Public Event 12/8/2015

About this Project

To improve the health of rural Alaska residents, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, in coordination with tribal, state and federal agencies, is spearheading a research and development effort to find better and more affordable ways to deliver drinking water and sewage disposal services to rural Alaska.

The Problem

  • Over 3,300 rural Alaska homes lack running water and a flush toilet. Many more depend on aging and deteriorating piped and haul systems.
  • Lack of in-home water and sewer service in rural Alaska causes severe skin infections and respiratory illnesses. Residents of Southwest Alaska suffer rates of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) that are among the highest in the world.
  • To correct this public health problem, agencies have funded conventional, community-wide piped and truck haul systems. Although these systems work, they are expensive to construct and many communities cannot afford their high operational costs.
  • Funding to build systems has declined severely while costs have risen sharply. The deficit between available funds and needs is over $660 million.
  • Many households in rural Alaska use a toilet known as a "honey bucket". A plastic bag lined bucket collects urine and feces. Then, plastic bags of feces from honey buckets are disposed in a sewage lagoon.
  • A different approach to delivering these services is needed.

The Solution

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has initiated a project to spur worldwide research to develop innovative and cost effective water and sewer systems for homes in remote Alaska villages. The project focuses on decentralized water and wastewater treatment, recycling, and water minimization. These approaches have a high potential for use in individual homes and housing clusters. Our goal is to significantly reduce the capital and operating costs of in-home running water and sewer in rural Alaska homes.

Systems in Rural Alaska

Water Systems in Rural Alaska

Resources and Studies


Press, Articles, Links

Water Sewer Challenge Brochure