270403 Delivery of Drinking Water and Sanitation Utilities in Alaskan Villages Using Collaborative Principles: Innovation Leading to More Sustainable Communities

Monday, October 29, 2012

Steve Konkel, PhD, Master in City Planning, Fellow RIPH , Dept. of Health Sciences, College of Health, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK
Cmdr. John Spriggs, REHS, Master in Public Health , Division of Environmental Health & Engineering, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Anchorage, AK
Environmental and public health professionals have tackled sustainability of drinking water and sanitation facilities in rural and remote Alaska. The Y-K Delta pilot effort was designed to bring piped drinking water and sanitation services to communities formerly on water haul systems for drinking water and “honey bucket” sanitation. That pilot led to a statewide drinking water and sanitation initiative with 27 communities as partners with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. For decades, practically every Governor and numerous Alaskan politicians have decried the lack of clean drinking water and sewage treatment systems in Alaskan villages. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent in pursuit of this goal. Yet a tremendous need still exists, as demonstrated by extensive requests each year and limited budgets.

Clean water and proper sanitation have significant public health benefits. We will profile these in our introduction, including reducing expensive health care treatments, often at regional facilities. The dilemma has been to figure out how to provide sustainable utilities for Alaskans that can serve the communities for decades and do so in a cost-effective and environmentally-sound manner. This presentation provides the policy background of the need to solve the problem, discusses the health risks and benefits of investment in sustainability, and evaluates the application of collaborative principles to achieve more sustainable communities.

As energy costs rise and capital budgets are under increasing pressure, innovation will be need to delivery these services. Our goal is having Alaska Natives become among the healthiest people in the world.

Learning Areas:
Administration, management, leadership
Environmental health sciences
Program planning
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Attendees will be able to: 1. Develop and design a framework for sustainable operation of drinking water and sanitation systems in the Alaskan village context; evaluate the Yukon-Kushkokwim rural utility cooperative (RUC) pilot effort. 2. Analyze the conceptualization, piloting, evaluating and funding of cooperative and collaborative approaches to delivering utilities on a sustainable basis.

Keywords: Sustainability, Drinking Water Quality

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked on drinking water and sanitation projects,lake/watershed management planning, and regional planning for utilities for decades. My BSc Architectural Engineering, Harvard masters degree in city planning, economics and natural resources management, and my MIT Ph.D. in environmental planning and policy have been assets. I worked in the Alaska Office of the Governor, DPDP, in 1982 and on evaluations of the program pilot described here, as well as the Statewide Alaska Rural Utility Collaborative.
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.