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Environmental Health and Engineering staff helping ARUC communities weather climate change challenges

January 15, 2016

Climate change has introduced a substantial challenge to maintaining in-home sanitary service to communities in the Arctic. Thawing ground and permafrost has increased movement between utilities and the homes they serve. Communities and water plant operators noted the need for innovative solutions to address the way service connections are constructed.

ANTHC Environmental Health and Engineering staff answered this call with an innovation called the “through wall disconnect” that allows a flexible connection at the point of in-home water and sewer service to protect the utilities from freeze and thaw cycles. This retrofitted connection has been successfully fielded in Noorvik, Kotlik, Kobuk, Savoonga, Chevak, Russian Mission, and Scammon Bay, with many of the connections now weathering well into their fourth Alaskan winter.

This fix has been especially important for member communities of the Alaska Rural Utility Collaborative (ARUC). ARUC communities strive to make their utility systems sustainable and cost-effective for the long term. The through wall shut-off was developed through multiple design iterations and prototypes. Trial configurations were fielded in select ARUC communities and have achieved very desirable results. The design is being shared openly with ANTHC’s partner organizations with the anticipation that this configuration will become the new standard in Alaska.

For more information about ARUC, click here.

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