EPA commits to better water, wastewater services in Alaska Native villages

New steps to boost access to safe drinking water and wastewater services in Alaska Native villages and American Indian tribes have been announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The action announced on Tuesday, May 31, included $154 million through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, plus $2.6 million under EPA’s Small, Underserved and Disadvantaged Communities Grant program, said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.

The new funding memorandum, intended to guide distribution of the funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, outlines requirements and recommendations for the Tribal Set-Asides of the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds to ensure access to safe drinking water and wastewater management in tribal communities.

The announcement did not identify specific Alaska Native villages that might benefit from this action.

Eligible projects include replacing lead pipes and addressing PFAS and other emerging contaminants.

PFAS, per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances, are long lasting chemicals which break down slowly over time

and have caused harmful health issues to people and animals.

EPA and partners have also renewed the Tribal Infrastructure Task Force to improve federal coordination efforts to deliver water infrastructure and financial assistant to Alaska Native villages and American Indian tribes.  The task force is to provide members with a focused platform to coordinate and communicate as initiatives of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are implemented.

These actions are in line with the October 2021 EPA Office of Water Action Plan titled Strengthening our Nation-to-Nation Relationship with Tribes to Secure a Sustainable Water Future, the EPA said.

The ITF, created in 2007, is rooted in commitments the United States made in support of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal on access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2000.