Legislature(1993 - 1994)
02/24/1994 09:05 AM CRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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.