ANHB’s Water and Sanitation Committee has released a White Paper, entitled “Ongoing Barriers to Access Water and Sanitation in Rural Alaska”, to highlight continued barriers to achieving access to water and sanitation systems in our unserved and underserved rural Alaska communities.
Piped water prevents disease and unnecessary suffering, and saves money and lives. Health disparities in rural Alaska persist due to lack of piped water systems. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provided $3.5 billion to the Indian Health Service (IHS) for sanitation facilities construction for Alaska Native and American Indians, but the projects in rural Alaska still require cost contributions for the costs to serve public facilities. The State of Alaska is in a position now to support these projects through its Village Safe Water (VSW) Program, yet several barriers exist for rural Alaska communities to access this funding. Operation and Maintenance Best Practices scores and Sustainability Plan requirements prevent communities from accessing VSW Program funds, which are required to match federal funds from USDA and EPA. The result of these barriers is that our rural Alaska, predominately Alaska Native communities will miss the opportunity to leverage VSW funds to fully serve communities. We should act now to take advantage of the opportunity the IIJA offers to provide lifesaving water and sanitation in rural Alaska.
You can read the full White Paper by following this link.