KNBA - KBC

Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Village Safe Water Program

April 30, 2015

What if you didn’t have piped water and sewer, and the government wasn’t picking up the tab to get you some? How would you find a low-cost system that you could keep running through the winter? In this segment of “Kick the Bucket,” find out how experts are looking for answers to rural sanitation issues in Alaska.

Villagers and people in the water and sewer business can name dozens of ways systems have failed due to parts that shattered in the cold, say, or components that had to be flown in from Europe and installed by a Lower 48 specialist.

Joaqlin Estus / KNBA

April 29, 2015

Even rural communities that have raised the money to build modern sanitation systems face the threat of their ultimate failure due to the lack of funding for operations and maintenance, wiping away whatever health gains were achieved.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation Environmental Health and Engineering Department provides technical assistance to water treatment plant operators in the region. Here’s a bit of the conversation during a recent teleconference.

Legislative majority leaders have not yet worked out an agreement with minority members last night that allows legislators to pull money out of savings to pay for state government. A 3-quarters majority is needed to tap the Constitutional Budget Reserve. The House and Senate were scheduled to adjourn Sunday but negotiations on the capital and operating budgets continue behind closed doors.

Legislative session continues past scheduled adjournment date

Lawmakers gave themselves another day to stay in session and work out an agreement on the capital budget. The scheduled end of the session was midnight Sunday. But the House and Senate are headed back into session today [Monday].

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Gov. Bill Walker plans to call a special session on Medicaid expansion

Historical trauma at the root of substance abuse and other mental health maladies

An Ojibwe woman and independent journalist recently visited Alaska for a series of stories on historical trauma and Native American mental health practices. Mary Annette Pember said the troubled lives of Native Americans reflect their troubled history.

Elders teach the laws of “living in ultimate purity,” as a way of healing

By Sophie Evan, KYUK

Health care providers in Bethel are reviving "Calricaraq," an ancient Yup'ik holistic way to live a long, healthy, and balanced life. The Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation’s Preventative Services Department is bringing back a system that’s meant to guide the Yup'ik, or “real people” in Yup'ik, from conception to adulthood. They hope it will help curb alarming suicide rates and tough social issues facing Yup’ik people today.

Use of “honey buckets” is on the rise as funding falls and costly systems fail

By Johanna Eurich

Water and sewer sanitation are still a challenge in many rural Alaska villages. Experts in water and sewer sanitation attending a meeting last week say a recent trend is taking honey buckets out of the museum and putting them back into villages. 

Despite progress and billions spent building water and sewage systems, many villagers in remote places like the Yukon Kuskokwim region still haul water and use a bucket instead of a toilet -- every day.