Rural communities get over $440M for sanitation infrastructure

Federal health authorities have allocated over $440 million to the Indian Health Service (IHS) to improve sanitation infrastructure in rural communities across Alaska, bringing them access to modern water and wastewater systems. IHS will distribute the federal funds they received to various projects. 

The funds were announced Tuesday through the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), Congressionally Directed Spending and the FY23 IHS enacted budget. 

Construction benefitting from these funds will not begin for two to three years until design has been completed. Depending on the complexity of the project, the construction phase could take between four to six years.  

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, often referred to as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is providing water and sanitation infrastructure funding to be distributed over a span of five years. Prior to its passage, First Lady Jill Biden visited the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) to promote safe, effective vaccination. During her visit she inquired about the leading public health issue in Alaska.  

Valerie Nurr’araluk Davidson, president and CEO of ANTHC, said 42 projects in communities statewide would benefit from these funds. She thanked tribal leaders, communities and the Alaska congressional delegation for their efforts to secure funds “to ensure Alaskans, regardless of where they live, have basic infrastructure that supports healthy lives.” 

“We’re excited to work with communities in all phases of projects, from planning and construction, to training and employing local teams who know how to get work done,” said David Beveridge, ANTHC vice president of environmental mental health engineering and facilities services. 


The IHS uses the Sanitation Deficiency System, a collaborative process in which communities work with ANTHC and other entities to identify sanitation needs, develop and agree on solutions, and prepare documentation required for prioritization and funding decision process by IHS. 

ANTHC said that on average it takes six to eight years from the time funding is received until construction is completed, including final planning, design construction, and operational support.