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Services & Products : Flush Tank and Haul System : Advantages of System

In thousands of rural Alaskan homes today people carry water to their houses in buckets and waste out in honeybuckets.  Cowater’s Flush Tank and Haul System was designed and developed around the special needs of Alaska’s rural villages many of which are small, remote and with little cash income and very little basic infrastructure.  The FTH system was developed over many years while working closely with individual communities.  The system is far less expensive and intrusive than underground piped systems.

In developing the FTH system we were conscious of three major constraints affecting the building and operation of sanitation services in rural Alaskan villages:

  • Remoteness of the villages.  Access is very limited.  Many villages are accessible only by small aircraft most of the year.
  • Harsh climatic conditions including permafrost and extremely cold temperatures.
  • Limited trained personnel and technical services in the village.

Our FTH system is very responsive to these and other constraints encountered in villages.  Some of the main features of the system include the following:

  • Ideal for permafrost and extremely cold conditions.   CLICK!

    The FTH system is built totally above ground.  This reduces or eliminates the effects of permafrost conditions and makes the system accessible at all times for repair and service since nothing is buried in the ground.  The sewage holding tank is superinsulated to reduce the cold weather effects.  Therefore, only a very small heat trace is required to prevent freezing in winter.
  • Provides a high level of sanitation services. CLICK!

    The FTH�system provides hot and cold running water in the home, flush toilet, hand basin, bathtub/shower, and kitchen sink.�The toilet is a �pint flush� toilet while the other fixtures use water conserving features where applicable.�Per capita water consumption varies according to the particular household. We use 3 gpd for design purposes.
  • Low installation costs. CLICK!

    Because the system is a haul system instead of a pipe distribution system, the installation costs are very low in comparison to piped systems.�The household installations are standardized and simple and are installed using local labor, making them very economical.�Depending on the roads and boardwalks in a community it may be necessary to upgrade these facilities.
  • Simple, reliable and easily maintained.  CLICK!

    The household components as well as the haul equipment are all selected and designed by Cowater for simplicity and reliability and easy repair and maintenance by local villagers and homeowners.
  • Modest operating costs.  CLICK!

    The operating costs of the FHT�system are very modest.�By far the largest cost to the homeowners is the labor cost of the haul service to deliver fresh water and haul the sewage.�Many homeowners save money by self-hauling fresh water for their homes.�Other homeowner costs are very small and include a small amount of electricity for the heat traces and hot water and occasional spare parts.
  • Improved roads and boardwalks serve the needs of the community.

    While the improved roads and boardwalks may be called �sanitation roads�, they serve the needs of the whole community.
  • Most operating costs stay in the community.  CLICK!

    As noted, the major operating costs are the operator�s wages. Therefore, this money stays in the village and provides jobs for local workers. In contrast, a major cost for piped systems is the imported energy cost to power heat traces and pumps to circulate the water and keep the system from freezing.
  • Reduced risk of whole system failure.  CLICK!

    Because each home and building is serviced independent of other homes, there is no danger of the whole system failing if one system fails. In contrast, a piped system is at risk of system failure and if that happens the cost could be very high and may not be able to be fixed until the next summer.
  • Construction can start shortly after approval.  CLICK!

    In most cases installation of household systems can start shortly after approval of the project without waiting several years for complete village designs and construction of the central piped systems.�Existing water supply and sewage disposal facilities are often sufficient for the project to get started even if these facilities must be expanded to service the entire community.


Village Scenes


Haul Tanks
Bottom Bubbles
Cowater Alaska, Inc. • 2150 E. Dowling Road, Suite C, Anchorage, Alaska 99507 • Phone 888.622.5511 • Email
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