AFCEC’s partnership helps bring drinking water to Moose Creek 

  • Published
  • By Aneta Veedmont 
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – A joint civilian-military project is providing drinking water to businesses and residences in Moose Creek, Alaska, where per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, impacted water wells at levels above Environmental Protection Agency advisories.  
The Air Force Civil Engineer Center, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the City of North Pole recently completed a partnership project to build a pipeline from the city’s water treatment plant to the community near Eielson Air Force Base, said Dawn Rodriguez, AFCEC’s restoration program manager at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
Contractors broke ground on the $41.4 million project in April 2020 to provide well users access to a drinking water supply after the Air Force found PFAS in some wells near Eielson.
“Teaming up with USACE that has the environmental knowledge and technical expertise as well as contractor collaboration were critical components to help ensure residents have access to drinking water,” Rodriguez said. “We worked together to design a construction plan to connect 178 Moose Creek businesses and homes as fast as possible to the city’s water supply.”  
The team upgraded the North Pole water utility to increase capacity of two wells to 1,100 gallons per minute and renovated the water treatment plant by adding additional greensand filters, pressure pumps, electrical service, meter equipment and backup generators. The upgrades in Moose Creek included construction of a pump house and a 410,000-gallon water storage tank.  
The team built a six-mile water transmission main to connect the two facilities and installed an additional 12 miles of distribution pipes from the Moose Creek pump house to homes and businesses, Rodriguez said.  
“We are proud to have had the opportunity to support the Air Force’s environmental restoration program,” said Teresa Lee, environmental and special programs project manager for USACE’s Alaska District. “Knowing you played a role to get clean drinking water to a community is very rewarding. It makes you feel like you accomplished a great thing.” 
In 2015, the AFCEC’s restoration team began investigating possible PFAS impacts to drinking water, compounds that had seeped into groundwater from past mission activities at Eielson AFB.  
PFAS are a group of synthetic fluorinated chemicals used in industrial and consumer products including specialized foam that was used to extinguish fires at the Department of the Air Force’s active and closed installations.  
Upon discovery of PFAS substances in drinking water that were above an EPA provisional lifetime health advisory, the Air Force immediately supplied alternative water sources to the impacted community of Moose Creek while assessing long-term drinking water solutions in collaboration with USACE and the City of North Pole.
“What we are seeing today is the combination of thousands of hours of a well-coordinated partnership to benefit Moose Creek residents,” Rodriguez said. “This strategic collaboration provided meaningful results and we look forward to cultivating more partnerships like this one.” 
AFCEC will continue the remedial investigation phase under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act process to define the extent of PFAS in soil, sediment and surface and groundwater on and around Eielson AFB. Upon completion of fieldwork, the Air Force is planning to make a report public for comments on the plans for remediation. In support of the entire effort, Eielson’s restoration team is working on a community survey to assess the residents’ interest in re-establishing restoration advisory board meetings for updates on the environmental cleanup activities.