Water, sewer task force bills take a step forward

Quinhagak's sanitation system, part of the Village Safe Water Program. Photo courtesy CRW Engineering

A measure helping villages set up safe water and sewer systems is getting some attention in the Legislature.

The bill would create a task force that would collect information and look into simple systems that could work in rural communities. It would also come up with a list of the most-needed projects.

The measure passed out of the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee on Friday (March 23rd.) It’s a companion bill similar to one in the Senate sponsored by Angoon Democratic Senator Albert Kookesh.

“We’ve got numbers that show that there are 6,000 homes that are without water and sewer in rural Alaska. Nobody seems to be paying a lot of attention to them. So we’re concentrated on it and hopefully we can put that together and people will pay attention to that,” he says.

The Senate measure made it out of the chamber’s Community and Regional Affairs Committee around the beginning of March. Both bills next go to their chambers’ Finance Committees.

If passed, the nine-member task force would research water and sewer systems in other northern nations. It would also work with state and federal agencies to streamline regulations and fund programs that could speed development.

Fiscal notes estimate the task force would need about $100,000 for its one year of work.

The measures are House Bill 362 and Senate Bill 147.