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A Vacation In Alaska

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Anchorage’s sewer system is full of debris. Now there’s a giant vacuum to clean it out

was written by Kirsten Swann, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage , 2019-09-21 02:13:10

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An Anchorage Water and Wastewater crew cleans a sewer pipe in East Anchorage on Sept. 10, 2019. (Photo by Kirsten Swann/Alaska Public Media)

Sewage moves beneath the streets of Anchorage in more than 700 miles of sewer lines. But other items wind up in those lines, too — things like toys, clothes and shoes.

Local utility managers now hope a new high-powered vacuum system will help remove some of those things, improving flow and extending the life of the entire system.

“We’re able to clean in one week what used to take us a month, and we wouldn’t even get it as clean,” said Sandy Baker, the public outreach coordinator for the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility.

The utility began using the new equipment this summer, Baker said. First, a high-velocity jetter truck draws water from a hydrant and shoots it into the sewer main to loosen any blockages, then a hydraulic power pack sucks it all up into a 25-cubic-yard vacuum box.

The vacuum box can hold up to 60,000 pounds of accumulated sediment and debris. Crews bring it all back to the South Anchorage operations center, dump it out, drain the water, dry it up, then hauls it off to the landfill for disposal. By this point, it resembles a pile of dirt. 

In years past, much of it would have remained in the sewer mains, Baker said. New technology is changing that. It’s saving money, too. Instead of paying $11 million to hire an outside company to clean just a portion of the city’s pipes, Baker said AWWU invested $2.6 million in the equipment to do the job itself. 

Withing 13 days, she said, utility crews had removed approximately 209 tons of debris from 1,650 lineal feet of 48” sewer pipes.

The utility plans on using the new equipment regularly now, Baker said. It’ll help keep Anchorage’s sewer system flowing smoothly — which is good news for everyone, because when the pipes are blocked, there’s only one place for the sewage to go.

“It’s gonna start backing up in people’s houses,” she said. “And nobody wants that happening.”

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A Visit To Alaska

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Regarded as best sightseeing for nearly everyone touring Alaska is

Denali National Park and Preserve. Initially intended to save wildlife, the vistas are having said that stunning. Denali includes 160 miles of the Alaska Range and dominating this sky line is North America’s biggest peak; 20,320 foot Mount McKinley easily one of the most extraordinary views in Alaska, if not the world. But it’s not just the mountain that makes Denali National Park an extraordinary place. The park is also the place to find thirty seven species of mammals, which range from lynx, marmots and Dall sheep, to foxes and snowshoe hares, and 130 different bird species may be noticed here, which includes the amazing golden eagle. The majority of visitors, however, want to see 4 animals particularly: moose, caribou, wolf and everybody’s favorite: the grizzly, bear. Denali, unlike most wilderness areas in the country, it’s not necessary to be a backpacker to see this wildlife, they can be seen right next to the famous Denali Park road. Not surprisingly then, visitors arrive here in droves; the park is a popular place, getting 432,000 visitors yearly. Through the years the National Park Service (NPS) has developed unique visitor-management methods, such as shutting its only road to most vehicles. Because of that Denali National Park is still the terrific wilderness it was 20 years ago. The entry has changed, however the park itself has not, and a brown bear meandering on a tundra ridge continue to provide the very same quiet excitement as it did when the park very first opened up in 1917. Though generations of Athabascans had wandered through what is at present the park, the first permanent settlement was organized in 1905, when a gold miners’ rush established the town of Kantishna. A year later, naturalist and hunter Charles Sheldon was taken aback by the beauty of the land and horrified at the reckless abandon of the miners and big-game hunters. Sheldon came back in 1907 and traveled the region along with guide Harry Karstens in an effort to create boundaries for a proposed national park. Sheldon was successful and the location was established as Mount McKinley National Park in 1917 with Karstens serving as the park’s first superintendent. As a result of the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, the park was enlarged to a lot more than 6 million acres and renamed Denali National Park and Preserve. Denali right now consists of an area somewhat larger than the state of Massachusetts and is typically rated as one of Alaska’s top destinations.

traveling to Denali National Park in Alaska

A Visit To Denali National Park in Alaska