"Thematic Network on Arctic WAter, Sewer and Health (WASH) hosted by Danish technical university (DTU) organized a summer school in Sisimiut, Greenland in the summer of 2023 to tackle the challenges of Greenlandic water supply and wastewater management issues.

I was one of the invited teachers for the course. I have background in water supply, sanitation and groundwater management in Finland and the goal of the course was to bring experts from different arctic countries to bring new ideas for arctic water supply and sanitation. The course had student participants from several countries from colder regions to Germany and Italy. The plan of the course was to reinvent how the water supply and sanitation could be done in Greenlandic sparsely populated conditions through case site studies. The typical arctic solution especially in small villages or huts for sanitation has been a honey bucket which considers a bucket with a plastic bag. The filled bags are collected, opened and emptied to the sea. In larger communities more common solution for wastewater is a pipe to the sea without treatment. These methods can cause health risks to inhabitants and stress to local environment.

The course was arranged in Sisimiut, which is the second largest settlement in Greenland. Arctic DTU had brought up a very nice settings for the course and the discussions and lectures were just fantastic. Even though Finland is situated in cold region with cold winters and soil frost, the challenges of water supply and sanitation due to more harsh Greenlandic conditions are obvious.  Remoteness, permafrost, lack of drinking water sources, all create issues for finding solutions. Through the case sites these issues were tackled by the students and the end results of the tasks were of very good. How we think e.g. dry toilet system or can the groundwater sources be rethought: these were nicely presented by the students after intense group work, field visits and teacher consultation.

The course and the visit to Greenland was an eye-opening experience for me. Creating water supply and sanitation solutions in cold climate does have differences, depending on harshness of conditions but also what the historical solutions have been. For example, the honey bucket is only used in Northern America and Greenland but not in Nordic countries as Finland where outdoor house has been the historical solution and centralized wastewater treatment has been utilized since 1960s. The course, visits and the seminar with local stakeholders after the course will work as a starting point for future collaborations where Arctic wastewater management and environmental impacts can be studied for new knowledge and ideas. I thank the North2North program for sponsoring the very successful arctic visit."