Northwest Arctic utility partnership shows success

February 11, 2019

In mid-2018, the Northwest Arctic Borough (NAB) partnered with ANTHC and Maniilaq Association to create a regional utility assistance program known as the Community Utility Assistance Program (CUAP). The program has ambitious goals to make water and sewer affordable, reduce water/sewer system emergencies, provide training and support for operators and administrators, and help communities become more competitive for construction grants.

Data from the first six months of this partnership is encouraging. Nine of 10 communities in the borough joined the program. In these communities, water and sewer rates decreased by two-thirds for residential customers and decreased by half for commercial customers. In Kotzebue, the borough’s regional hub community, residential customer water and sewer rates also decreased by more than $50 per month.

Since establishing the partnership, documented completion of all monthly preventative maintenance increased from 27 percent to 100 percent. Documenting improvement in preventative maintenance efforts makes borough communities more competitive for grant awards. The improved maintenance led to completely full water storage tanks in Kivalina before winter and the Selawik water and sewer system remaining unfrozen this winter. Prior to the CUAP improvements, these two issues were an annual challenge.

CUAP has also increased the number of trainings for operators and administrators from three to eight per year, further enhancing the skills of the region’s workforce and preparing the community operators to address issues as they arise.

“The CUAP has made water and sewer affordable to its member communities and allows for healthier communities,” said Tim Gilbert, Maniilaq Association President and CEO “We are proud to partner with the Northwest Arctic Borough and Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in the development and implementation of the CUAP. We thank the Northwest Arctic Borough for establishing the CUAP and helping make our region healthier.”

Likewise, the Consortium is proud to partner with Maniilaq Association and the NAB to help advance ANTHC’s vision that Alaska Native people are the healthiest people in the world.

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