Alaska Native villages to receive $39.6M for water infrastructure

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials have announced $39.6 million in grant funds during fiscal year 2023 in annual appropriations for Alaska rural and Native villages for the construction of high priority drinking water and wastewater facilities in rural parts of the state.

The EPA said the money may be used for training, technical assistance and education programs in support of such sustainable water systems.

Details on how to apply for these grants are still to be announced.

Tribes may also use these funds to reduce exposure to emerging contaminants, such as PFAS, and replace lead service lines. PFAS are per-and polyfluroroalkyl substances — long-lasting chemicals that break down slowly over time. Scientific studies have shown that PFAS are harmful to health.

The total amount of $278 million is the EPA’s largest ever investment of annual water infrastructure funding to Tribes and Alaska Native villages. It includes some $38 million from a new initiative called the Emerging Contaminants in Small or Disadvantaged Communities Tribal Grant Program, which aims to address emerging contaminants, including PFAS, in drinking water systems serving Tribal populations.

Radhika Fox, EPA assistant administrator for water, announced the funds on June 29 during a visit with the Lummi Nation in Bellingham, Washington.