USDA provides nearly $29M in grants for rural infrastructure
U.S. Department of Agriculture officials announced 16 rural Alaska communities will receive funding to improve health and water quality in the villages. The majority of the money will be used in Native villages to fund development of community water and wastewater disposal systems.
The USDA will fund the projects through it Rural Alaska Village Grant program, Jim Nordlund, USDA Rural Development Alaska director, said.
“The RAVG funding is roughly $21.8 million and will go to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium on behalf of rural Alaskan communities, to provide assistance to construct drinking water and wastewater systems in Kwethluk, Toksook Bay, Eek and Lower Kalskag,” Nordlund said. “The projects will improve public health and sanitation conditions for residents of these communities that currently must collect and haul rain for drinking water and rely on portable waste containers euphemistically called “honey buckets.” The funding will be used to bring water and sewer services to 123 homes by 2015.
The State of Alaska received an additional $6.2 million in grants from RAVG to upgrade wastewater infrastructure in 65 homes in Quihagak and Hooper Bay, with remaining money to be used in planning for projects in Seldovia, McGrath and Tununak, according to a department press release.
Since 2009, the USDA Rural Development program has provided approximately $950 million to improve wastewater infrastructure and bring potable water into rural homes, according to figures from the departments website.