Alaska Water and Sewer Challenge (AWSC)

Project Highlights

NEW – Conference on Water Innovations for Healthy Arctic Homes
(Sept. 18-21, 2016 – Anchorage, AK)
AWSC Teams will debut their prototypes at the WIHAH conference. This circumpolar conference is being produced in conjunction with the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council as an endorsed project of the Sustainable Development Working Group. If you want to participate or learn more, go to:

2016 April 21st – Water Reuse Session at the AWWMA Conference
AWSC Teams and members of the Steering Committee participated in an all-day track dedicated to onsite water reuse. Teams were joined by Guy Carpenter from the WateReuse Association, Chad Seidel from the EPA funded DeRISK Center at the University of Colorado Boulder and representatives from “Dump The Bucket” - an effort led by the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation. Click on the right to access a compilation of presentation slides from this session.

2015 December 8th – Phase 3 of the AWSC was launched
At a public event, ADEC’s Village Safe Water Program announced the beginning of Phase 3. Click on the right icon to view pictures, access the presentation slides here: Launching Phase 3 of the AWSC and system schematics here: Description of the Three Proposed Systems (2015-09-03)

Phase 2's top three selected proposals are currently being developed into prototypes to be tested for 9 months. Reports on prototype performance are expected by the end of summer 2017.

2016 AWWMA Water Reuse PDF

View pictures of Public Event 12/8/2015

About the Alaska Water and Sewer Challenge

To improve the health of rural Alaska residents, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, in coordination with tribal, state and federal agencies, is spearheading a research and development effort to find better and more affordable ways to deliver drinking water and sewage disposal services to rural Alaska.

The Problem

  • Over 3,300 rural Alaska homes lack running water and a flush toilet. Many more depend on aging and deteriorating piped and haul systems.
  • Lack of in-home water and sewer service in rural Alaska causes severe skin infections and respiratory illnesses. Residents of Southwest Alaska suffer rates of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) that are among the highest in the world.
  • To correct this public health problem, agencies have funded conventional, community-wide piped and truck haul systems. Although these systems work, they are expensive to construct and many communities cannot afford their high operational costs.
  • Funding to build systems has declined severely while costs have risen sharply. The deficit between available funds and needs is over $660 million.
  • Many households in rural Alaska use a toilet known as a "honey bucket". A plastic bag lined bucket collects urine and feces. Then, plastic bags of feces from honey buckets are disposed in a sewage lagoon.
  • A different approach to delivering these services is needed.

The Solution

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has initiated a project to spur worldwide research to develop innovative and cost effective water and sewer systems for homes in remote Alaska villages. The project focuses on decentralized water and wastewater treatment, recycling, and water minimization. These approaches have a high potential for use in individual homes and housing clusters. Our goal is to significantly reduce the capital and operating costs of in-home running water and sewer in rural Alaska homes.

Systems in Rural Alaska

Water Systems in Rural Alaska

Resources and Studies


Press, Articles, Links

Water Sewer Challenge Brochure