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ANTHC Environmental Health and Engineering work earns award recognition for community health projects

May 15, 2018

This year, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) is recognizing ANTHC Environmental Health and Engineering’s work to improve the health of Alaska Native people with four awards.

The Newtok Relocation to Mertarvik Sustainable Planning Team received an Indian Health Services (IHS) Director’s Award, which recognizes efforts beyond regular duty requirements resulting in significant benefits to IHS programs, customers, or fulfillment of the IHS mission. The project is in the early stages of helping the community of Newtok relocate to the new town site of Mertarvik, necessitated by storm-driven coastal erosion. Gavin Dixon, ANTHC Community Development Manager, thanked the team for its efforts, “I’m really proud of all the extra work put into the Newtok relocation,” he said, “and I know the community appreciates it, too.”

The Newtok Relocation Team also won an HHS Green Champion Sustainable Planning and Design Award for their Mertarvik town site design, which minimizes energy costs and maximizes public health benefits. The team worked in collaboration with Newtok community members and Tribal leadership to design the future community of Mertarvik.

Additionally, ANTHC received the HHS Green Champion Good Neighbor award for our work with the community of Russian Mission. This project reduced Russian Mission’s water treatment plant energy costs by $37,300, making local water and sewer service more affordable. Led by the late Mike Nabers, Alaska Rural Utility Collaborative (ARUC) Engineer and Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP) alumnus, the heat recovery project served as a training ground where recent ANSEP graduates, now employed by ANTHC, could put theory to practice. Under Nabers’ guidance, these young engineers gained experience in design, calculating heat transfer and sizing pumps by applying their education and training into the project. As part of this project, the National Tribal Water Center, housed at ANTHC, engaged community youth about their local water utility, allowing them to express their culture and connection to water through art. This project demonstrates how technical projects can create meaningful opportunities to emphasize tradition and build capacity among emerging engineers.

Finally, in a partnership with the Oscarville Traditional Council and the Cold Climate Housing Research Center, ANTHC received an HHS Green Champion Wellness award for using the Holistic Approach to Sustainable Northern Communities in assisting with Oscarville’s community development plan. Oscarville currently experiences a lack of water and sanitation infrastructure, a housing shortage and high energy costs. The holistic approach to planning recognizes the interconnectedness of all of these issues and employs a community-driven response.

Whether they help a community reinforce its ties to water, assist with a community’s relocation, or create a sustainable community development plan, these projects and awards highlight ANTHC’s commitment to serving Alaska Native people and rural communities in pursuit of its vision that Alaska Native people are the healthiest people in the world.

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