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The Northwest Arctic Borough, Maniilaq and ANTHC partner to provide utility assistance

October 22, 2018

The Northwest Arctic Borough recently partnered with ANTHC and the Maniilaq Association to manage a $1.8 million utility assistance program for all communities in the region. This program has reduced most residential customers’ water and sewer utility rates by about two-thirds. It is also reducing the number of water/sewer emergencies, providing training and support for operators and administrators, and making communities more competitive for construction grants.

Funded by borough revenue, this program completed a joint fuel purchase for all community water systems, which significantly lowers fuel costs for residents. It also pays for customer billing services and water operator wages for all communities in the region. Water operators are provided paid time off, 401(k) benefits and training to encourage local residents to pursue long-term careers in this field.

This builds upon a successful Maniilaq/ANTHC partnership for remote maintenance worker services and Borough/ANTHC partnership to provide alternative energy and energy efficiency solutions for water systems in the region. The Borough/ANTHC energy collaboration has resulted in a 50 percent reduction in water and sewer system energy costs over the last six years. ANTHC is proud to join Maniilaq and the Borough to improve living and economic conditions for residents in this region.

The partnership has also garnered attention outside of Alaska. On April 27, Clement Richards, Northwest Arctic Borough Mayor, presented details of the joint efforts during the international North x North Festival at the Anchorage Museum. Mayor Richards was joined by well-known speakers Ethan Berkowitz, Anchorage Mayor, and Mayor Kristin Roymo of Tromsø Kommune, Norway. The three spoke at the Local Government and the Sustainable Development Goals section of the festival. Also, on September 5, the U.S. Arctic Research Commission visited Kotzebue to gather more information on this utility assistance program.

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