HJR 32: Urging the federal government to recognize the dire water and sanitation conditions in rural Alaska and to become a full partner with this state in improving this health-threatening situation.
00HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 32 01 Urging the federal government to recognize the dire water and sanitation 02 conditions in rural Alaska and to become a full partner with this state in 03 improving this health-threatening situation. 04 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA: 05 WHEREAS Alaskans living in over 135 rural communities throughout the state have 06 substandard and inadequate water and sewer facilities; and 07 WHEREAS this lack of basic facilities results in many of these rural Alaskans having 08 to drink untreated water from ponds, creeks, or rivers and having to use a bucket as a toilet 09 or an outhouse as a bathroom facility; and 10 WHEREAS this lack of basic facilities often results in uncontained sewage pooling 11 in close vicinity to homes, in liquid wastes leaching into the waters used for drinking, and in 12 exposing children to raw sewage in their play areas; and 13 WHEREAS this lack of basic facilities is causing a critical human health and safety 14 crisis in rural Alaska as evidenced by an alarmingly high incidence of potentially life-threatening diseases, such as
01 hepatitis A and meningitis; and 02 WHEREAS Alaska's rural population is projected to double by the year 2010, further 03 compounding this health crisis and exposing many rural residents to diseases that would be 04 preventable with basic sanitation facilities; and 05 WHEREAS rural Alaska has a history of cycles of waterborne disease epidemics 06 stemming from unsafe water and sanitation systems, and state epidemiologists report hepatitis 07 A is currently beginning another new cycle of that disease; and 08 WHEREAS the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development 09 continues to design and build homes in rural Alaska without adequate provision for safe 10 sewage disposal or in-home drinking water; and 11 WHEREAS the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Environmental 12 Conservation established the Alaska Sanitation Task Force, consisting of 27 federal, state, 13 Native, and regional organizations, to analyze these important issues and provide 14 recommendations for action; and 15 WHEREAS the implementation of the recommendations of the Alaska Sanitation Task 16 Force involves the joint commitment of the state, local and federal governments to improve 17 the living standards, public health, and quality of life of rural Alaskans; and 18 WHEREAS the governor has directed the commissioner of the Alaska Department of 19 Environmental Conservation and commissioners of other affected state departments to use their 20 best efforts to utilize available resources to address this critical health problem; and 21 WHEREAS the Alaska State Legislature recognizes the important work done by the 22 Alaska Sanitation Task Force and urges early implementation of the task force's findings and 23 recommendations by the state government in partnership with the federal government, local 24 government, Native regional corporations, and others to address these challenges; and 25 WHEREAS this state effort will not be successful without the commitment of the 26 federal government to meet its responsibilities and obligations to these rural residents, many 27 of whom are Alaska Natives; and 28 WHEREAS the federal government, through the United States Environmental 29 Protection Agency, has the capacity to assist in correcting the sanitation conditions in rural 30 Alaska as exemplified by its ongoing efforts in other areas of the country such as the 31 American Southwest Colonias where border town communities are receiving assistance in
01 establishing basic water and sewage facilities; and 02 WHEREAS a national effort similar to that currently being undertaken in the 03 American Southwest Colonias is necessary if residents in rural Alaska are to no longer be 04 consigned to substandard sanitation conditions. 05 BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature respectfully requests the 06 President of the United States to direct the administrator of the United States Environmental 07 Protection Agency to join in a partnership with the State of Alaska to finance and implement 08 a long-term, comprehensive effort to improve sanitation conditions in rural Alaska; and be it 09 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature respectfully requests the 10 President of the United States to ask the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States 11 Department of Housing and Urban Development, the United States Department of Health and 12 Human Services, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the United States Department of Education, the 13 United States Department of Labor, and the United States Department of Transportation to 14 commit available finances and resources necessary to improve the water and sanitation 15 conditions in rural Alaska by implementing the recommendations of the Alaska Sanitation 16 Task Force. 17 COPIES of this resolution shall be sent to the Honorable Bill Clinton, President of the 18 United States, and to the Honorable Ted Stevens and the Honorable Frank Murkowski, United 19 States Senators, and the Honorable Don Young, United States Representative, members of the 20 Alaska delegation in Congress.