KNBA - KBC

Village Safe Water

Sept. 3, 2015

Change affects whether villages can get funds to fix existing water and sewer systems or only to replace them

By Joaqlin Estus, KNBA, with assistance from Matthew Smith, KNOM

Joaqlin Estus / KNBA

Sept. 3, 2015

President Obama names Denali Commission as lead agency for coastal communities threatened by climate change

Based on a story by Zach Hughes, APRN

Wednesday in Kotzebue, President Obama continued his focus on climate change in Alaska by announcing that the Denali Commission will take the lead in dealing with coastal communities threatened by disastrous flooding, erosion and thawing permafrost.

Joaqlin Estus / KNBA

The slide show above gives glimpses of life in the dozens of villages in Alaska that lack flush toilets and running water. 

To find out more, click on the links below, Parts 1-5, to see and hear the series "Kick the Bucket: Rural Sanitation in Alaska." 

3/20/15

Senators on the Finance Committee Thursday questioned Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials, asking just how bad would it be to turn down federal dollars for construction of water and sewer systems.

DEC Administration Director Tom Cherian told legislators the $64 million capital budget DEC submitted is its lowest in ten years. The lion’s share of DEC’s capital budget, $55.5 million, would go to water and sewer projects. Of that, 71% is federal dollars. The state’s share would be a $9 million dollar match.

State contributes 25% required match for federal funds

Members of the Legislative Bush Caucus last week in a “Lunch and Learn” session on rural sanitation were told about 900 million dollars is needed to build, replace and maintain rural sanitation systems. Last year the state put about $9 million, and federal agencies put $51 million, toward rural sanitation in Alaska. The combined 60 million dollars is less than half the amount allocated ten years ago.

Use of “honey buckets” is on the rise as funding falls and costly systems fail

By Johanna Eurich

Water and sewer sanitation are still a challenge in many rural Alaska villages. Experts in water and sewer sanitation attending a meeting last week say a recent trend is taking honey buckets out of the museum and putting them back into villages. 

Despite progress and billions spent building water and sewage systems, many villagers in remote places like the Yukon Kuskokwim region still haul water and use a bucket instead of a toilet -- every day.