Water Equity Clearinghouse

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium


The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) is a nonprofit Tribal health organization providing health services for Alaska Native and American Indian people living in Alaska. In partnership with the more than 158,000 Alaska Native and American Indian people the organization serves and the Tribal health organizations of the Alaska Tribal Health System, ANTHC provides comprehensive medical services, wellness programs, disease research and prevention, rural provider training, and rural water and sanitation systems construction. ANTHC is the largest and most comprehensive Tribal health organization in the United States. With more than 2,500 employees, it is also Alaska’s second-largest health employer.

Efforts to Advance Water Equity

Many Alaska Native communities lack basic water infrastructure. ANTHC is committed to increasing access to clean water and sanitation by constructing on-site water and wastewater systems in some of the most remote parts of Alaska. These projects include installing wells, cisterns, and septic systems in individual homes, and providing communities with safe drinking water and healthy waste water disposal—often for the first time. Access to in-home water and wastewater infrastructure is closely linked to public health, as it facilitates healthy hygiene practices.

The effects of climate change pose another challenge to Alaska Native communities. Kivalina, a community in northwest Alaska, is planning to relocate because of its increasing vulnerability to flooding and erosion. ANTHC is working with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center on a demonstration project for mobile, non-piped, in-home sanitation systems in the community of Kivalina. The project retrofitted nine homes with low-cost sanitation improvements that can be moved with the community to a new location. Modular construction of the system facilitates quick installation and reduces construction costs. The project monitors homeowner acceptance and health benefits, with the aim of creating replicable models for other northern coastal communities. Through the services ANTHC and its partners are providing, Kivalina residents will have access to water treatment even as they relocate, making their community healthier and more resilient.

In addition to improving accessibility to water infrastructure, ANTHC’s work is also focused on food security, emergency preparedness, air quality, addressing brownfields or contaminated sites, and houses the National Tribal Water Center (NTWC). ANTHC runs the Alaska Rural Utilities Collaborative (ARUC), a program that builds the capacity of small utilities to provide water and wastewater services. ARUC advises utilities on developing sustainable and equitable policies; facilitates customer participation in decision-making; and provides planning support. They also assist with hiring local residents as water plant operators.