Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium - 2011 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
Location: Anchorage, AK
Project Title: Energy Efficiency Upgrades for Sanitation Facilities in Selawik, Alaska
Type of Application: Deployment
DOE Grant Number: DE-EE0005168
Project Amounts:
DOE: $702,427
Awardee: $702,427
Total: $1,404,854
Project Status: See project status
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: September 2011
End: December 2013

Summary

The main objective of the proposed project is to improve the overall energy efficiency of the water treatment/distribution and sewer collection systems in Selawik by implementing the retrofit measures identified in a previously conducted utility energy audit. One purpose for the proposed improvements is to enable the community to realize significant savings associated with the cost of energy. Another purpose of the upgrades is to repair the vacuum sewer system on the west side of Selawik to prevent future freeze-up problems during winter months.

To fulfill the main project objective, the following scope items have been identified:

  • Provide an engineering design for the identified energy efficiency measures
  • Execute upgrades at the water treatment/vacuum sewer plant according to the engineering design
  • Develop a leak detection testing and repair program for the glycol heat trace and vacuum sewer collection systems

By upgrading the existing water treatment/distribution and vacuum sewer collection systems to operate more efficiently, the proposed project will significantly reduce Selawik’s dependence on fuel oil and support the community in its quest for independence from external economic pressures. This installation project will enable Selawik to have an affordable and sustainable water and sewer system. This will enable tribal members to continue to live in their traditional lands and pursue their subsistence lifestyle.

By implementing the energy efficiency measures from the previously conducted energy audit, through the scope items identified above, the community of Selawik will realize an estimated reduction in energy costs of 46%, or $63,680 per year.

Project Description

Background

The Native Village of Selawik is a federally recognized Alaskan tribe organized under the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA). The Selawik IRA is a local government body in the community and has initiated a number of construction projects (local housing, clinic, etc.) and programs (recycling, environmental awareness, etc.) to benefit its members. Although the Selawik IRA has experience with administering grants, the Selawik IRA will partner with Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), the grant recipient, for this project because the proposed installation project will require engineering design and construction within existing sanitation facilities. These facilities will be responsible for the project management, technical aspects, and financial tracking of the project.

Selawik is located at the mouth of the Selawik River, about 90 miles east of Kotzebue. It lies 670 miles northwest of Anchorage. The community, which encompasses 2.5 square miles of land and 0.9 square miles of water, was developed across the Selawik River onto three banks linked by bridges. The sanitation utilities of interest consist of a building that houses both the water treatment plant and vacuum sewer plant and an above-ground system of arctic pipes that houses water and sewer mains and service lines.

The ANTHC is a tribal statewide organization that provides a range of medical and community health services for more than 120,000 Alaska Natives. It is the largest and most comprehensive tribal health organization in the country. ANTHC employs 1,850 people, 45% of whom are Alaska Natives or American Indians, and has an annual operating budget of approximately $350 million. The Consortium is at the center of the Alaska Tribal Health System, which is owned and managed by the 229 federally recognized tribes in Alaska and by their respective regional health organizations. Since its founding in 1997, ANTHC has entered into a self-governance agreement (the Alaska Tribal Health Compact) with the Indian Health Service (IHS) for management of all statewide health services that the agency formerly provided for all Alaska Natives. Through its four divisions, including the Alaska Native Medical Center, the Consortium works in cooperation with tribes, Native health organizations, agencies, and municipalities to achieve its vision that: “Alaska Natives are the healthiest people in the world. Together we work to promote Native self-determination, quality health services, wellness, and excellence.” 

ANTHC is committed to creating safe and healthy communities in tribal areas of Alaska and partners with tribes, including Selawik, to design and construct community facilities. The proposed project will be designed by ANTHC staff engineers and constructed by force-account labor using village hire supervised by an ANTHC superintendent.

The Division of Environmental Health and Engineering (DEHE) is the second largest division of ANTHC. As part of the Alaska Tribal Health System, DEHE provides sustainable environmental health solutions through an array of programs focusing on health promotion and disease prevention. The strategic goal of these programs is “to work with local leaders and tribal health organizations to develop healthy and safe Alaska Native communities.” DEHE has resources in the areas of project management, engineering, construction, and tribal utility support, among others. DEHE plans, designs, and constructs water and sewer systems, washeterias, and clinics in rural Alaska and supports the tribal health facility network of hospitals and clinics throughout Alaska. DEHE also operates the Alaska Rural Utility Collaborative (ARUC), a successful and sustainable utility management program for water systems in rural communities.

Project Objectives

Historically, energy efficiency was not a high priority for sanitation facilities projects. The typical approach to sanitation facilities development in Alaska followed the well-established community and public health model. Traditionally, the precedent was to provide potable water and remove human waste as imperiously as possible to avoid negative health impacts. Construction and operation and maintenance (O&M) costs were an important design factor, but public health was the priority. However, due to escalating energy costs, ANTHC and its tribal stakeholders are changing the way they approach business in rural Alaska. Today, ANTHC’s goal is to reduce the long-term O&M costs of the sanitation facilities as much as possible, while maintaining the health benefits to its stakeholders.

ANTHC’s long-term vision includes assisting communities to upgrade their sanitation facilities to become more energy efficient, remotely monitoring energy use at the sanitation facilities, and promoting system sustainability by training local operators.

The community of Selawik’s most important and urgent energy goal is to achieve significant cost savings from the proposed installation project. The cost of fuel oil in Selawik is tremendously high, sometimes reaching over $5/gallon, which increases the costs of heating, sanitation, and electrical services for the community residents. It is common for electric rates to be more than $0.50 per kilowatt-hour in many rural Alaska villages, which is four times higher than the cost that urban residents pay.

Considering the high energy costs, Selawik’s long-term energy vision is to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels (diesel) and use locally available resources, such as wind and waste heat. The community of Selawik has been actively pursuing funding for projects that will help reduce their energy costs. Selawik was recently awarded $76,000 from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to implement energy saving measures in its public buildings.

The proposed project in Selawik is part of a larger effort to upgrade the community’s primary sanitation utility—the water treatment and vacuum sewer plant. The main objective of the project is to improve the overall energy efficiency of the water treatment/distribution and sewer collection systems in Selawik by implementing the retrofit measures as identified in the Utility Energy Audit (located in the Energy Use and Savings File). One purpose of the proposed improvements is to enable the community to achieve significant savings associated with the cost of energy. Another purpose is to repair the vacuum sewer system on the west side of Selawik to prevent future freeze-up problems during the winter.

To fulfill the main project objective, the following scope items have been identified:

  • Provide an engineering design for the identified energy efficiency measures
  • Make upgrades at the water treatment/vacuum sewer plant according to the engineering design
  • Develop a leak detection testing and repair program for the glycol heat trace and vacuum sewer collection systems.

Project Scope

ANTHC, DEHE has a Cooperative Project Agreement (CPA) with the City of Selawik and the Native Village of Selawik for the sanitation facilities upgrades project (ANTHC Project No. AN 08-NJ2). The CPA contains information about the project scope of work, funding costs, and administration. The CPA legally binds all parties to complete the project according to the mutually agreed upon terms and conditions. By signing the CPA, the Native Village of Selawik also acknowledges that funding has been made available by the IHS to provide sanitation facilities to the members of the Selawik tribe and authorizes the ANTHC to enter into an agreement with the City of Selawik for tribal construction funding.

ANTHC, DEHE, which essentially functions as a city engineer for tribal communities in Alaska and offers guidance for public works projects in the community, will receive the grant and manage the project. The proposed project will be designed by ANTHC, DEHE engineers and constructed via force account labor method with hired locals, under the supervision of an ANTHC, DEHE superintendent. ANTHC, DEHE will administer the grant and execute the installation project.

ANTHC, DEHE’s existing management structure will be used to execute this project. DEHE provides design/build services for rural Alaskan communities and employs a superintendent to oversee the project construction and local labor hiring to complete the project. DEHE has partnered with Selawik for over two decades on sanitation facilities design and construction projects. It will administer and execute the proposed installation project.

The following tasks will address the objectives of the proposed project. Each task can be performed independent of the other tasks.

Task 1 – Provide an engineering design for the energy efficiency retrofits. The design will consist of mechanical, electrical, and civil engineering drawings and details that will be used as construction plans to implement the upgrades at the water treatment/vacuum sewer plant.

Task 2 – Complete upgrades to the interior of the water treatment and vacuum sewer plant, including the following measures:

  1. Modify the piping, storage and controls on the existing glycol heat trace system within the plant for the three vacuum sewer lines that experience freeze-up
  2. Maximize recovered heat that can be used within the plant by installing temperature sensors and boiler controllers
  3. Install new controllers that add hydronic heat to the water storage tank, raw water line, and the vacuum glycol lines that are compatible with the existing sensor wells on each of these components
  4. Retrofit interior florescent fixture lighting and replace with LED lamps
  5. Recommission the vacuum pumps according to the manufacturer’s instructions, adjusting the settings between pumps to reduce pump run times and installing an alarm on the pumps that will alert the operator of excessive run times
  6. Eliminate heat tape on the circulating water distribution loops by determining and shutting off the breaker that feeds the water loop

Task 3 – Develop a leak detection testing and repair program. Inspect glycol heat trace and the vacuum sewer collection lines for areas of air infiltration and make necessary repairs to restore the integrity of both systems.

Project Location

Selawik is located at the mouth of the Selawik River, about 90 miles east of Kotzebue. It lies 670 miles northwest of Anchorage. The community, which encompasses 2.5 square miles of land and 0.9 square miles of water, was developed across the Selawik River onto three banks linked by bridges.

Project Status

The project was competitively selected under the Tribal Energy Program’s fiscal year 2011 funding opportunity announcement “Energy Efficiency Development and Deployment in Indian Country” (DE-FOA-0000423) and started in September 2011.

The November 2011 and March 2014 project status reports provide more information.

For current project status or additional information, please contact the project contacts.

Project Contact

Paul Jackson
Grants Manager
Division of Environmental Health and Engineering
4000 Ambassador Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508
907-729-3522
pjackson@anthc.org

Sayward Fehrman
Associate Engineering Project Manager
Division of Environmental Health and Engineering
4000 Ambassador Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508
907-729-3079
shfehrman@anthc.org