• Addressing Water Security Challenges in the Rural North
    • Harry Penn
    • September 18, 2015

There is now growing debate about the relative scale of the problem of water security in rural Alaska; some academics have commented that rural water security has become framed by State defined sustainability, and focused on economic factors ahead of public health concerns; health practitioners acknowledge that nearly all rural households have access to safe drinking water, but caution that many still lack in-home water service; and data from State agencies suggests that only a fraction of rural Alaska remains unserved. This study explores the nature of the existing challenges facing both water security and infrastructure in rural Alaska through a framework of four interrelated concepts; availability, access, utility and stability. In this seminar I draw on observations from rural communities alongside data from State agencies to describe that the focus of water security in rural Alaska is no longer a problem of access or availability, and propose instead that a utility and stability centered focus is now needed to address concerns such as spiral operating costs, infrastructure sustainability, utility efficiency and decreasing human capital.

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