Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility
Water is a natural resource that we often take for granted, yet we depend on it for life. Delivery of fresh and safe public water is an essential function of a community. The Municipality of Anchorage owns and operates the Anchorage Water & Wastewater Utility for the core purpose of safeguarding the health and welfare of the public in our community and the environment in which we live.
As a Utility, our mission is to provide safe and reliable water and wastewater services today and into the future. Bringing water to your home and business and protecting water resources by appropriately disposing of wastewater is the focus every day for the nearly 300 professional employees that comprise the staff of the Utility. The dedication and enthusiasm for this work reflects the clear commitment of the staff and the community as a whole toward our core purpose.
This core purpose of safeguarding public health and the environment is supported by three pillars that define the Utility: Reliable Infrastructure, Responsible Financial Management, and our Professional Workforce. Each of these pillars is described further in distinct pages on this website. We hope you take advantage of the opportunity to explore these pillars and learn more about how the utility works.
Anchorage's Water: Where Quality Is Clear
Here on the edge of the Alaskan wilderness, we enjoy sharing with our customers some of the best water resources in the world. Anchorage's water comes to us from pristine watersheds high in the Chugach Mountains, surrounded by the protected lands of Chugach State Park. The protected wilderness of the park ensures that source waters are virtually free of contamination. Eklutna Lake and Ship Creek, generate nearly 90 percent of Anchorage's public water supply from snowmelt and glacier runoff. The remainder is drawn from wells tapping deep underground aquifers.
Our surface water sources contain naturally occurring particles suspended in the water from soil or bedrock from the grinding action of Eklutna Glacier. At the Eklutna and Ship Creek water plants, sophisticated technology is used to remove that particulate matter through a series of treatment processes including coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, and filtration. Then the water is provided with hypochlorite disinfectant to ensure that no bacteria or pathogenic microbes can survive in the 850 miles of the water distribution system pipelines. Anchorage Municipal Code also requires the Utility to add fluoride to promote healthy teeth throughout Anchorage. Municipal well water does not require treatment for particulate removal, but hypochlorite is added as a disinfectant.
Water flows from the plants through large diameter transmission mains to local neighborhood distribution mains to individual service lines of over 55,000 customers. Over 50 million gallons of storage is available in reservoirs strategically located around the city, in addition to booster pumps and pressure regulating valves to ensure pressures and flows are appropriate throughout the system for all of our customers. Annual production statistics of the water plants are provided below:
2016 Drinking Water Production
- Eklutna Water Treatment Facility - 7.14 billion gallons, 86 percent of total production
- Ship Creek Water Treatment Facility - 161 million gallons, 2 percent of total production
- Anchorage & Eagle River Well Production - 878 million gallons, 11 percent of total production
- Girdwood Well Production - 123 million gallons, 1 percent of total production
Recycling The Day's Impurities
Enjoying Anchorage's quality drinking water is just one part of AWWU's operations. Along with the production of drinking water, AWWU must collect and treat Anchorage’s wastewater and safely return it to the environment.
Sewage is collected, treated, and discharged through three distinct collection systems. The smaller outlying communities of Eagle River and Girdwood have their own plants, discharging to Eagle River and Glacier Creek, respectively. Wastewater from the Anchorage Bowl (from Muldoon to Potter Marsh, and including Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson) is treated at the John M. Asplund Wastewater Treatment Facility at Point Woronzof, prior to discharge into the marine waters of Cook Inlet. The treatment processes remove contaminants that could be harmful to aquatic wildlife. Each facility has been accorded honors repeatedly from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies for effective operations that meet or exceed the requirements of state and federal permitting. Extensive environmental monitoring – especially in Cook Inlet – demonstrates the success of our operations and underscores the commitment of our professional workforce.
Volumes of treated wastewater discharged from each plant are listed below.
2016 Treated Effluent Discharge
John M. Asplund Wastewater Treatment Facility - 9.51 billion gallons
Eagle River Wastewater Treatment Facility - 490 million gallons
Girdwood Wastewater Treatment Facility - 141 million gallons