DefinitionRural community housing units with water and sewer services. "Rural Community" is defined as an Alaska community with between 25 and 2,000 people that is not part of a metropolitan area and that is not connected to a highway system. "Housing Unit" is defined as a resident's primary home, used for most of the year. Seasonal homes, vacation homes, lodges, public structures and commercial buildings are not included in this definition. "Water and Sewer Service" is defined as the provision of running water and sewer service inside the home via community piped or covered haul system, individual well and septic systems, or some combination thereof.
NumeratorNumber of rural community housing units with water and sewer services
DenominatorNumber of rural community housing units
Why Is This Important?In-home water and wastewater services are key elements of public health progress, reducing waterborne diseases, contributing to lower infectious gastrointestinal and respiratory disease incidence. Despite major improvements in recent decades, Alaska still lags behind other states in having basic sanitation services.
Other ObjectivesHealthy Alaskans 2020 Indicator 19: Increase the percentage of rural community housing units with water and sewer services to 87% by 2020.
How Are We Doing?In 2016, most regions with predominantly Alaska Native communities exceeded the Healthy Alaskans 2020 goal of 87.0%. The Tribal Health Regions not meeting the goal consist of Norton Sound (80.9%), Yukon-Kuskokwim (79.4%), and Interior (73.3%).^1^[[br]][[br]]
1. Statewide Data. Rural Water & Wastewater Service. Alaska Native Epidemiology Center. February 22, 2017. [http://anthctoday.org/epicenter/healthData/factsheets/Rural_Water_Wastewater_Service_2_22_2017.pdf] Accessed May 2, 2019.
Evidence-based PracticesAs part of the Healthy Alaskans 2020 health improvement process, groups of Alaska subject matter experts met over a period of months in a rigorous review process to identify and prioritize strategies to address the 25 health priorities. Public health partners around the state are aligning work around these approaches adapted to Alaska's unique needs.
[[br]]Establish sustainable water and sanitation services in communities where homes are unserved.
[[br]]There is no existing evidence-based strategy for provision of water/sewer services. The approach used in Alaska is to build central water treatment and distribution facilities for communities. There are construction projects that are underway or are planned to address
part of the in-home water and sewer needs in rural Alaska.
[[br]]Promote research and development that will address the technologic challenges of providing adequate quantities and affordable water and sanitation services.
[[br]]Technologic challenges exist to provision of water and sewer services to all homes in all communities. The existing models of centralized treatment and delivery of water may not be feasible for communities and homes without service. These challenges need to be addressed based on current knowledge and technologies. There is no existing "evidence-based" approach that can be borrowed from elsewhere and applied to Alaska's situation.
[[br]]To ensure homes with existing service don't lose that service, preserve function and prevent catastrophic failures of existing systems.
[[br]]Much of the existing water and wastewater infrastructure in Alaska is aging, requires increased maintenance, faces an increased risk of catastrophic failure due to extreme environmental changes, and may require replacement in the near future. The health and financial benefits resulting from improved water and wastewater system operation and maintenance have been widely recognized by funding agencies. Once homes gain access to in-home water and wastewater services it is essential to protect, operate and maintain that infrastructure in order to continue a level of service that promotes health.
A listing of strategies, actions, and key partners on this measure can be found at: [http://hss.state.ak.us/ha2020/assets/Actions-Partners_19_Wastewater.pdf].