Budget bill boosts grants for sewer, water projects

Posted: Friday, September 15, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The federal government will boost its spending for village sewer and water projects by ten percent, to $55 million, if a spending measure that has cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee becomes law.

The 2001 funding bill for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs and the Environmental Protection Agency would also improve statewide veterans health care services and provide money for other projects around the state.

EPA spending for rural village sanitation projects would grow by $5 million next year to $35 million, which will be added to $20 million in Agriculture Department spending. Matched by the state's 25 percent share, that will bring total village sanitation and safe water spending to $68.75 million.

The spending measure cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee and now will be folded into the mix of spending bills that Congress is rushing to wrap up before adjourning early next month. Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens is committee chairman.

The measure includes provisions requiring Veterans Affairs to add staff at the Anchorage Veterans Center for alcohol and mental health treatment and requires the agency to work with the state on a report due March 1 on the best method of providing a state veterans home.

Other provisions in the bill provide:

-- $4 million for the Small Public Water System Technology Center in Sitka;

-- $3 million to clean up an area along the Kenai River contaminated with dry cleaning solvents.

-- $2.5 million for a pilot training simulator for the University of Alaska;

-- $2.2 million for water and sewer improvements in Fairbanks and North Pole;

-- $2.2 million for Sitka water and sewer improvements;

-- $2 million to replace the Brother Francis Shelter operated by Catholic Social Services in Anchorage;

-- $3 million to restore the Atwood Center at Alaska Pacific University, the first phase of a $6 million project;

-- $1.1 million for sewer and water projects in Whittier;

-- $1 million for a distance learning program in conjunction with the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai.

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