Wastewater plant compost

Compost is loaded and stockpiled beside the Golden Heart Utilities Wastewater Treatment Plant in this 2010 file photo. The utility has suspended sales of the compost due to concerns about possible PFAS contamination. Eric Engman/News-Miner

The city of North Pole is hosting an open house in December to talk with residents about signing up for its expanded water system.

The topic of water contamination has been a longstanding discussion in North Pole. A plume of the manmade solvent sulfolane was found in the city’s groundwater in 2009, and more recently, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, collectively known as PFAS, have been discovered in the area.

In an effort to address the sulfolane plume, the city began expanding its water system over the past few years. There are four zones expanding the municipal water service to properties within the plume. Zones one and two had water mains installed last year, while installation continued in zones three and four this summer.

“Basically the project is complete except for a few small loose ends,” said Bill Butler, director of City Services in North Pole. While all of the new water mains are installed and vertical construction is finished, Butler said one pump in a pump house needs modifications, as does a generator in the water plant.

The open house will be held Dec. 4 in the North Pole Plaza Mall.

“It’s a way to get information out there, to get people to sign up because the goal is to get people on water, so they’re not using the contaminated groundwater,” Butler said.

For residents of zone three and four, signing up before May 31, 2020, means eligibility for a $500 early sign up bonus.  If the forms are complete with the proper identification and everything is confirmed, the city hopes to have the bonus sent out within a week of receipt of the form, according to Butler.

The city will continue taking applications after May, but those who sign up after the May 31, 2020, date will not be eligible for the early sign-up bonus.

The city did the same thing last year, according to Butler, once zones one and two had water mains installed. Approximately 90% of the eligible people signed up last year in total in zones one and two, he said.

“In zones three and four there’s over 400 eligible ones right now,” Butler said.

From 3-8 p.m. Dec. 4, Butler will be in the lobby area of the North Pole Plaza Mall, the open space outside of the storefronts, along with a support person and representative from Flint Hills Resources. The officials will be present to assist with the process of signing up for the utility service and submitting applications.

Butler had some advice for those looking to apply during the open house event.

“It’s critical for people if they want to sign up at that time, be sure to bring an ID,” Butler said, adding that it can be an Alaska ID, a passport or a driver’s license.

He stressed that if there are multiple property owners, all owners must sign the application.

Beginning in spring 2020, North Pole Utility is going to continue connecting people to the new water system. Anyone with questions can call 488-8538.  Read more about the open house and requirements at bit.ly/35m7l30.

Contact staff writer Kyrie Long at 459-7510. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/FDNMlocal.