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USDA Rural Development Announces Funding to Improve Water Quality, Sanitation Services, and Protect Public Health in Rural Alaska

   ANCHORAGE, Alaska, October 16, 2012 – USDA-Rural Development Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund today that 16 rural communities in Alaska will receive funding to improve public health and the quality of local water supplies.  Funding will be used by the predominantly Native communities to plan, design and construct community water and wastewater disposal projects. Funding is provided by USDA through the Rural Alaska Village Grant (RAVG) program. 

   “Today’s announcements represent continuation of a long-standing commitment by USDA to improve public health conditions in predominantly Native villages in rural Alaska. These investments improve water and sanitary conditions by bringing basic services to homes and public buildings in these communities including safe drinking water and sanitary waste disposal," Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager said.  

   “The RAVG funding is roughly $21,850,000 and will go to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), on behalf of rural Alaskan communities, to provide assistance to construct drinking water and wastewater systems in Kwethluk, Toksook Bay, Eek and Lower Kalskag.  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,” said Nordlund.

   ANTHC received an additional $742,500 pre-planning RAVG grant.  That funding will be used to help cover preliminary cost and analysis  for engineering, environmental review, design and rights-of-ways tasks associated with bringing water and wastewater services to the rural communities of Crooked Creek, Atmautluak, Hoonah, Kipnuk, Nanwalek, Pilot Station and Huslia. The State of Alaska also received a $6.2 million RAVG grant for water and wastewater infrastructure systems for Quinhagak and Hooper Bay, which will benefit 65 homes with upgrades, and will also provide pre-planning for the communities of Seldovia, McGrath and Tununak.  

   In Tununak, funding will be used to upgrade an engineering report, prepare an environmental report and business plan.  Currently, the majority of residents in Tununak haul their water and utilize honey buckets for waste disposal. The planning documents are necessary to evaluate the options of providing the community with healthy and safe sanitation systems.

   For additional information on RD projects, please visit Rural Development’s new interactive web map featuring program funding and success stories for fiscal years 2009 – 2011.  The data can be found at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/RDSuccessStories.html.    

   President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities.

   USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

   USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $172 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. 

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