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The community of St. Michael restores water service to key community buildings

March 24, 2017

The St. Michael water and sewer system froze in mid-January, leaving the entire community without water or sewer service. Local operators, supported by ANTHC’s Alaska Rural Utility Collaborative (ARUC), started thawing water and sewer mains immediately. Unfortunately, it soon became obvious that thawing the entire 10 miles of water and sewer lines would not be possible until early summer. Community leaders, operators and regional partners took action to assist community residents during the crisis. The Bering Straits Regional Housing Authority and ANTHC provided hundreds of containers to allow residents to haul water and dispose of wastewater. Meanwhile, the community prioritized thawing water and sewer lines to the health clinic and city building. The Norton Sound Health Corporation, along with ARUC, provided thawing equipment and assistance. Due to the tireless work of local water operators, these key community buildings now have water and sewer service, proving residents access to showers, laundry and medical care. A major cause of the freeze-up was water system damage from melting permafrost and shifting building foundations. ANTHC and the community are currently seeking funding to repair these damaged lines this summer and provide St. Michael with a water system that will not freeze in the future. For more information on ARUC, visit

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