200282 Assessing policy decisions related to water distribution systems in Alaska Native villages

Monday, November 9, 2009: 4:45 PM

David Driscoll, PhD, MPH , Institute for Crcumpolar Health Studies, University of Alaska, Anchorage, Anchorage, AK
Troy L. Ritter, REHS, MPH, DAAS , Division of Environmental Health and Engineering, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Anchorage, AK
Providing access to potable water has been a cornerstone of public health efforts in Alaska Native villages since 1957. Water infrastructure policy in Alaska has focused on two distribution systems as alternatives to the collection and “self hauling” of water from nearby rivers or streams: small vehicle haul systems, which involve the regular delivery of potable water, and piped distribution. Piped systems have relatively high capital costs (paid by government) and low operational costs (paid by local villages) while small vehicle haul systems have relatively low capital costs and relatively high operational costs. There has been no formal evaluation of the public health implications of these water distribution systems.

We used the 2008 Alaska House Count Inventory to determine water distribution systems by household and village. We further collected data on knowledge, attitudes and practices relating to treated water use among those living in homes served by different distribution systems. Finally, we compared rates of water-related infections relevant to this population.

Small vehicle haul systems are being developed at the fastest rate in Native Alaskan villages. Water-related knowledge, attitudes and practices vary between households served by the different water distribution methods. Treated water use was highest among households served by piped water distribution systems. Households that use the most water tend to have the lowest rates of water-related infections.

Policy makers should consider how water distribution methods influence knowledge, attitudes and practices, as well as rates of water-related infections when determining support for future programs in Alaska Native villages.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the water distribution systems currently employed in Alaskan Native villages. Assess the association between water distribution system, water use behaviors, and health outcomes.

Keywords: Alaska Natives, Water

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have over 12 years experience conducting community-based health research, with a specialization in environmental exposure.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.