Yves Brower Speaks About Managing Utilities in the Thawing Permafrost & Coastal Erosion

Video Shot in: 2022

Yves Brower, Chief of Operations at Barrow Utilities And Electric Cooperative, oversees water distribution, wastewater collections, and wastewater treatment. In his job, he witnesses significant changes in the climate. Over the years, Yves has observed the worsening conditions for utilities due to factors such as thawing ground, increased precipitation, and changing permafrost. These changes have led to challenges in maintaining water and sewer systems. The utility company employs different methods like utilidors (underground tunnels) and direct burial pipes, but the shifting permafrost has caused houses to move and pipes to break, resulting in frequent repairs and water main breaks. Yves, although not formally trained as an engineer, has learned everything on the job and through interactions with knowledgeable individuals, including local elders, scientists, and fellow employees. He emphasizes the importance of incorporating local knowledge into scientific studies and appreciates the open-mindedness of local residents and scientists like Geoff Carroll and Dr. Craig George. Yves also shares a story about a seal-catching technique devised by a local hunter that baffled the scientists studying seals.