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Rural Alaska

Sanitation problems in Atmautluak

  • Author:
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published October 18, 2012

In 1995, former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles promised to help end the era of honey buckets in rural Alaska. Seventeen years later, the honey bucket remains -- but it's slowly vanishing.

And in the village of Kwethluk, running water has been a long time coming. Slowly, over two decades, the Yup'ik community of about 700 has moved away from hauling water and using honey buckets rather than flush toilets.

Now residents in the village of about 150 homes are getting a bit of help in the bid to provide adequate water and sanitation. Kwethluk is one of 16 villages across the state benefiting from a $29-million Rural Alaska Village Grant (RAVG) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program. The program, established in the mid-90s by former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, is intended to move rural Alaska villages out of third-world sanitation systems. A list of villages receiving funding this year can be found here.

More: Grudging retirement of rural Alaska's honeybuckets | Pitka's Point bids buckets farewell

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