Because the channel of the Tanana River is drying up, the water utility in North Pole, Alaska is facing a $4 million problem. A pipe that transports around 200,000 gallons of treated wastewater per day to the Tanana River wetland system needs to be extended by around 4,000 feet in order to comply with the state’s discharge permit. The failing infrastructure has been in place since at least the 1970s and the problem was identified over ten years ago, says Bill Butler, the City Services Director.
The river is drying up due to natural causes, like climate change, rather than human negligence, but it is necessary for the water utility to find a solution. Butler says this is the biggest issue the water utility faces going into 2016 because the city is in violation of their discharge permit from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. The permit requires that treated wastewater flow into a mixing zone, where the initial dilution of wastewater occurs, rather than a dried up riverbed. This is for the protection of the wetland system, water quality, and human health.
Lengthening the pipe is the most viable option for fixing the problem, but it comes at a cost. Financing for the $4 million project is unclear. The City Council needs to decide whether to appropriate about $300,000 in mostly state grant money to begin the project. The city is also applying for a loan from a state wastewater loan program. “It’s a tough budget year, but we are hopeful,” says Bill Butler.
Even if the city does find funding, the project will still need to be approved by multiple local, state, and federal agencies before construction can start in the Tanana River wetlands due to the ecological and economic impacts associated with the project. “Building in a wetland is going to have challenges,” says Butler. However, if the financing comes together, the construction for the $4 million pipeline should start in 2017 or 2018. 
 Bohman, Amanda. North Pole facing wastewater problem. Newsminer.com. http://www.newsminer.com/news/local_news/north-pole-facing-wastewater-problem/article_7d25c372-aba8-11e5-93f4-df3d98ff10f1.html