More affordable water and sewer in Chevak and NoorvikNovember 13, 2017
ANTHC’s efforts have helped make water and sewer service more affordable for the residents of Chevak and Noorvik, two Alaska Rural Utility Collaborative (ARUC) member communities in western Alaska. Monthly water and sewer rates in Noorvik decreased from $175 to $157.50 per month in the last year, while Chevak rates decreased from $165 to $85 per month in the last two years. Reduced energy costs and more customers were key to lowering rates.
Both communities saw large cost savings from energy efficiency projects implemented with help from ANTHC’s Rural Energy Initiative. Chevak projects include using excess heat from the electrical power plant and excess electricity from community wind turbines, as well as efficiency improvements to the vacuum sewer system. Noorvik projects include using excess heat from the electrical power plant, vacuum sewer efficiency improvements and solar panels installed by the Northwest Arctic Borough.
An increase in the number of customers also helped lower rates in each community. Rates are set so that all customers share the total operating cost of the water and sewer system. The more these costs are shared, the lower the rate. Also, as rates become more affordable, more residents connect to water and sewer. In Chevak, for example, 96 percent of homes have been connected. In Noorvik, 81 percent of homes are connected.
These connections help with a community’s overall health. Studies in rural Alaska communities have clearly demonstrated water and sewer service not only improves the health of residents in the home, but also of the entire community. Thus, connecting homes to water and sewer is another way of fulfilling ANTHC’s vision that Alaska Native people are the healthiest people in the world.