Legislature(1993 - 1994)

02/24/1994 09:05 AM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS brought  SB 330  (WATER QUALITY FUNDS AND              
 GRANTS) before the committee as the final order of business.                  
                                                                               
 SENATOR RICK HALFORD, prime sponsor of SB 330, said he introduced             
 the bill at the request of the Department of Environmental                    
 Conservation.                                                                 
                                                                               
 SB 330 provides funding assistance through grants and loans to                
 Alaska's incorporated municipalities for the construction of water,           
 wastewater and solid waste improvements.  By amending AS 46.03.030,           
 the flexibility of funding alternatives available to incorporated             
 governments will be increased.  Changes to AS 46.03.032 will                  
 position the State to take advantage of a new federal loan program            
 for construction of water supply systems.  This legislation is now            
 pending in Congress and by passing this bill this session, it will            
 enable the State to participate at the earliest possible                      
 opportunity.                                                                  
                                                                               
 Senator Halford said there are a number of policy decisions, and he           
 encouraged the committee to go through the changes made in the                
 legislation and have the Department of Environmental Conservation             
 explain why they believe each of them should be the way they are.             
                                                                               
 Number 510                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN asked Senator Halford if he thought this bill would             
 be the appropriate vehicle to bring about some consistency in                 
 having local communities participate somehow in the cost of these             
 projects.  SENATOR HALFORD answered that he has no objection to               
 anything that makes sense.  He added that he agrees with the long-            
 term goal, because he's afraid that when we really do get down to             
 the reality of spending within our income, these programs are                 
 either going to be maintained from local sources or they are going            
 to fall apart.                                                                
                                                                               
 Number 551                                                                    
                                                                               
 JON TICKET, a Close-Up Program student from Selawik, said they do             
 not have water or sewer systems in their village, and he believes             
 passage of SB 330 will help their situation.   He said Selawik is             
 in a unique location, surrounded by rivers, and their city council            
 is trying very hard to get water and sewer for their village.  He             
 pointed out that last year their region had numerous reported cases           
 of hepatitis.                                                                 
                                                                               
 Number 575                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN asked if any Village Safe Water projects have been              
 done in Selawik.  KEITH KELTON answered that DEC is working with              
 the Public Health Service to provide a project for Selawik.                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN asked Mr. Ticket if he thought people in Selawik                
 would be willing to contribute a portion of the cost of a project             
 whether its is contributing a piece of property, or a gravel                  
 source, or labor, etc.  JON TICKET answered that he thought the               
 people would be willing to cooperate in any way they can.                     
                                                                               
 Number 585                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR PHILLIPS asked where Selawik gets it water, and how they              
 dispose of their waste material.                                              
                                                                               
 TAPE 92-17, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 001                                                                    
                                                                               
 JON TICKET answered that they basically get their water from the              
 laundromat, but usually melt ice from the river for drinking.  They           
 use "honey buckets" and the waste material is put into plastic bags           
 and hauled to a nearby lagoon.                                                
                                                                               
 Number 025                                                                    
                                                                               
 GARY SKIN, a Close-Up student from Selawik, shared pictures of the            
 disposal line from the laundromat to the lagoon.  The line has                
 leaks in it that freeze up in the winter months, and when it thaws            
 in the summer months it seeps into the river where they mainly get            
 their drinking water.                                                         
                                                                               
 Number 060                                                                    
                                                                               
 JOHN KAMAVOHA, a Close-up student from Valdez, said the small                 
 villages in his area have problems similar to Selawik.                        
                                                                               
 Number 070                                                                    
                                                                               
 WILLIAM MARK of Good News Bay said they get their drinking water              
 from the creek or use rain water.  They also use a lagoon for                 
 disposing of their waste.                                                     
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN pointed out that the fact that these villages have              
 lagoons and that the waste is being separated is very good.                   
                                                                               
 Number 110                                                                    
                                                                               
 KEITH KELTON, Director, Division of Facility Construction &                   
 Operation, Department of Environmental Conservation, stated DEC's             
 strong support for SB 330.  He echoed Senator Halford's comments              
 that there are several areas in the bill which they feel are open             
 to discussion as far as policy by the Legislature.                            
                                                                               
 Mr. Kelton said SB 330 makes it easier for the smaller communities            
 to get funding, particularly by removing a match provision for                
 federal funds.  It would allow using federal funds for full match             
 with state funds which is prohibited in the current statute.                  
                                                                               
 SB 330 also changes the state participation-local participation               
 ratios for the communities under 5,000 in the grants program.                 
                                                                               
 The loan program, which is capitalized by the federal government at           
 80 percent with a 20 percent state match, currently covers only the           
 waste water program.  There are three different bills within the              
 U.S. Congress which would extend the federal loan program to cover            
 drinking water supplies.  SB 330 would provide state authorization            
 to have a program in place prior to the federal program being                 
 enacted so that the state would have a quicker opportunity to use             
 the federal dollars on a capitalization loan program as it becomes            
 available.  Mr. Kelton said that program would benefit nearly any             
 community that had a surface water source and wanted to apply for             
 a loan.                                                                       
                                                                               
 Mr. Kelton said the legislation also contains several housekeeping            
 measures.  The statute has been in place since 1972 and has been              
 amended several times by adding new programs onto it, and the                 
 legislation cleans up and consolidates the language.                          
                                                                               
 Number 152                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the changes in SB 330 will make DEC's job             
 a bit easier and make for a more efficient building and development           
 of facilities.  KEITH KELTON answered that it will and, at the same           
 time, it has a benefit of helping the communities.                            
                                                                               
 Number 160                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN asked for Mr. Kelton's comments on the concept of               
 local participation in these projects.  KEITH KELTON said his                 
 proposal has been discussed and, in concept, they support his                 
 proposal, but, in practicality, it has limited application.  In               
 working with the smaller communities and villages, it has been                
 DEC's experience that most of them don't have the resources even to           
 guarantee satisfactory maintenance and operation once the facility            
 is built, even though the department insists on those type of                 
 precautions being taken.  Even though they are willing to put up a            
 local share, most of the time in a subsistence economy it doesn't             
 exist.  He added that there are some things that may be possible              
 like land donations, which have worked in the past.                           
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS said he agreed with Senator Leman that there           
 should be some local participation, and he wondered if it could               
 somehow be tied in with the permanent fund dividend program,                  
 because if a person lives in the state for a year and is qualified            
 to receive $1,000, then part of it should be used to purchase a               
 piece of government.  KEITH KELTON agreed that there are ways to              
 come up with money in different configurations and he reiterated              
 that they don't oppose the concept for village safe water, but he             
 felt that if the bill were amended in that manner it would detract            
 from the bill and could cause delays.                                         
                                                                               
 Number 230                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN said he thought SB 330 would be a good vehicle for              
 such an amendment and that he would draft one and present it to the           
 Senate Finance Committee, which is the next committee of referral.            
                                                                               
 Number 355                                                                    
                                                                               
 PAM DUNDY, staff to Senator Zharoff, voiced Senator Zharoff's                 
 support for SB 330.  She said it encompasses what he wanted to see            
 addressed and, at the same time, it will get more projects out into           
 the districts.                                                                
                                                                               
 Number 345                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR moved that SB 330 be passed out of committee with              
 individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was so                  
 ordered.                                                                      

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