Many communities in remote rural Alaska are only accessible by plane or boat and essentially inaccessible during the long, hard winters. They lag far behind the lower 48 states in having safe and dependable drinking water and suitable waste disposal systems available. The Rural Alaska Village Grant (RAVG) program supports the development and construction of water and wastewater systems to correct dire health and sanitation conditions in those villages. I had the recent opportunity to accompany USDA Water and Environmental Program RAVG Manager Tasha Deardorff and other program partners on site visits of two such remote rural communities to check the status of current projects.
It’s nearly 400 miles from Anchorage to Bethel, the regional hub. Our first destination from Bethel was the remote Native village of Toksook Bay some 114 miles away. We were greeted by a resident who transported us via four-wheeler (all terain vehicle) to the city office.