By Elizabeth Zach, staff writeralaska

In nearly 30 Alaska communities, some 3,300 homes still have no sewer system or running water. Residents resort to using buckets, referred to as ‘honey buckets’ for toilets. These open waste collection sites can cause respiratory illnesses, especially in children.

But state leaders are now offering nearly $1 million to engineers to develop sewer systems in these rural areas within the next two years.

In describing a prototype for one such system, project engineer Chase Nelson, with an engineering group called Team Dowl, told KTVA Alaska. “There is a separate point of use filter and there’s a grey water system that recycles all the water to the other fixtures in the house.”

Another design would fit within a home and loop the water along a recycling route; a University of Alaska team has developed a system with an external shipping container unit that residents could install themselves.

“We reuse water in the home for hygiene purposes and we re-use water in the home in the much smaller loop for toilet flushing so we can maximize the use of water,” Aaron Dotson, associate professor at the university, told KTVA Alaska.

The state is offering up to $160,000 for capital—or start up—costs, and then up to $135 per month for utility costs. The selected designs will be tested in homes in fall 2017.

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