Water, wastewater funds for Alaska on their way to Senate floor

Salmon research funds, as well as significant investments to water and wastewater systems, are among the big wins for Alaska included in the fiscal year 2024 Interior-Environment Appropriations Act, on the way this past week for consideration on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who supported these benefits for underserved and unserved Alaska communities, said on July 27 she is looking forward to the full Senate considering and passing this bill.

Along with the water and wastewater investments, the bill includes expanded access to public lands, investment in wildfire mitigation efforts, clean-up of contaminated lands and support for Native communities and cultures, Murkowski said.

“One of the state’s top priorities was also funded: spending directed to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) to respond to the crisis in salmon declines while also researching and monitoring changes to the health of the salmon environments,” Murkowski said.

The package includes $6.71 million for the Denali Commission to address waste and contamination removal from small, isolated communities in the Aleutians East Borough by outfitting a barge with waste removal, soil and water treatment equipment.

Another $5.01 million is earmarked for a project for the Bethel area, to remove numerous derelict vessels found at Steamboat Slough, to prevent public and environmental health risks; $5 million for a partial building assessment and remediation of contamination in the Buckner Building at Whittier, including asbestos, lead PCBs and petroleum contamination; and $4.72 million to expand capacity and improve operations at Dillingham’s landfill.


Another $3.5 million is included for the Alaska Division of Forestry to provide funds to carry out fuel reduction projects that align with community wildfire protection plans, and $2 million for ADF&G for research and enhancement activities to rebuild salmon populations to levels capable of sustaining communities dependent on subsistence, commercial, and recreational uses of salmon. These include communities in Norton Sound and the Yukon, Kuskokwim, Nushagak, and Kenai rivers.

Another $2 million is earmarked for ADF&G for critical salmon stocks research to monitor mortality, changes to fecundity, changes in the health and survival of eggs, and other processes.