At least 30 Alaska Native villages lack indoor plumbing despite more than $2 billion in federal and state money being spent over the past 50 years to equip communities with such basics.

But the state is facing increasingly tight budgets and can no longer afford to spring for traditional piped water and sewer systems. So residents continue to use outhouses or honey buckets — large buckets that serve as toilets.

The state hopes to find more affordable options through a contest.

Of 18 entities that applied for the Alaska Water and Sewer Challenge, the state selected three companies or organizations and their partners to work with two villages each. Project proposals were submitted this summer for prototype development and testing expected to begin later this year.

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Online:

http://watersewerchallenge.alaska.gov/index.html