Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering

First Advisor

Karl G. Linden

Second Advisor

Aaron Dotson

Third Advisor

Joann Silverstein

Abstract

Access to safe water and effective sanitation is an issue of major concern in developing communities. While most of the international focus on water, sanitation and hygiene is on improving water quality in communities that don’t have access to clean water resources, the challenge in rural cold climate communities is making sure a sufficient quantity of water is available to households for drinking and washing. Traditional piped utilities and pump-and-haul systems are expensive and difficult to build, operate and maintain in rural cold climate communities. Instead, unserved communities self-haul water to their homes and drastically reduce the volume of water that they use each day for drinking, washing and cleaning. The decreased quantity of water used in unserved communities has been linked to increased rates of skin, respiratory and gastrointestinal infections.

This research evaluates two alternative water resources that could increase the quantity of water available for hygiene purposes in rural Alaska: rainwater catchment systems and a household greywater reuse system. Rainwater samples were collected and analyzed from 48 catchment tanks in nine villages. Overall, rainwater quality was very high and met US EPA drinking water standards in >80% of cases without any treatment required. Depending on the weather patterns in the village, rainwater use could be increased to account for 13-40% of annual household water use if proper infrastructure is used and best management practices are followed.

A pilot household greywater reuse system was built and operated daily for nine months in Alaska to determine whether water can be produced onsite that is safe for human contact. Sixty gallons of water were produced per day under normal and stress conditions, meeting state and federal water quality standards. Wash water had low TOC (total organic carbon), turbidity and conductivity, normal pH, and high UV transmittance. The treatment process provided at least 18-log10 reduction of viruses and >8-log10 bacteria. While the treatment system produced sufficient wash water to protect health, the concentrated wastes produced by the system could pose a threat to the household if proper waste disposal methods are not facilitated along with installation of the reuse systems.

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