Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/30/1993 09:03 AM CRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS introduced SJR 25 (IMPROVE WATER/SANITATION IN RURAL ALASKA) as the next order of business. RUSSELL HEATH, Executive Director, Alaska Environmental Lobby, testifying in support of SJR 25, stated their organization considers the deplorable drinking water and sanitation conditions that exist in the rural communities of Alaska to be one of the most egregious environmental problems facing the state today. He said every effort must be made to bring rural water and sanitation services up to the same standards that urban Alaska and the rest of the Nation expect and demand. Mr. Heath criticized proposed budget cuts in the Department of Environmental Conservation, saying that cuts are so deep that its drinking water and solid waste programs are threatened. Number 275 JOHN SANDOR, Commissioner, Department of Environmental Conservation, stated DEC's support for SJR 25. He related that during the previous week, the Environmental Protection Agency brought together 25 people from various federal agencies in Washington, D.C. in support of dealing with Alaska's water sanitation problems. He said the group will be getting together again in four to six weeks and he believes the state has a strong commitment from the EPA and will be on the way to getting a partnership effort of various federal agencies to deal with the situation. Number 292 SENATOR ADAMS commended Commissioner Sandor for his efforts in addressing the problems in rural Alaska, and said he is probably the only commissioner that is working for the betterment of Alaska. Number 303 SENATOR LEMAN asked if it was likely that the state may be able to get a match on the VSW projects on the order of $25 million a year, over beyond what the Public Health Service is now investing in the state. COMMISSIONER SANDOR responded that was their objective, and he has met with Senator Stevens and he endorsed this proposal for $25 million each year for a five-year period. He pointed out that this kind of investment over not just a five-year period, but a 20-year period, is actually going to save money in the reduction of the tremendous health costs associated with the health problems. He added that the EPA volunteered to be the lead federal agency in putting the program together, and DEC would be the lead state agency, working with DCRA and with the local communities. Number 355 SENATOR GEORGIANNA LINCOLN voiced her support for SJR 25 and stated the improvement of water and sanitation conditions in rural Alaska has been one of her very top priorities in her whole tenure in the legislature. Senator Lincoln commended the Alaska Sanitation Task Force on their report and final recommendations. One of their recommendations was to develop new water and sewer technologies, which are adaptable to conditions in rural Alaska, by conducting field tests on innovative and decentralized water and waste disposal technologies to collect and analyze the housing related building and infrastructure technology information from other states and countries. She emphasized the importance of field tests to see what works and what doesn't work in different parts of Alaska. She also emphasized the importance of the training and certification for maintenance workers at the rural sites. Senator Lincoln encouraged the legislature, DEC and the federal government to work closely with the rural communities throughout this entire effort. She stressed the need to work with the communities to plan from the bottom up on every project and program that is put in place for their benefit. Number 500 SENATOR TAYLOR asked Commissioner Sandor if his department is applying for waivers for these people in the rural communities so that a simple latrine ditch can be dug so that we can start getting some better water and better sewer conditions out there. COMMISSIONER SANDER responded that the department is applying for and has received assurances that they will be exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act requirements and that they design systems for drinking water and sewage that make sense in local communities. Number 516 BRUCE GERAHTY, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Community & Regional Affairs, stated the department's support for SJR 25, and said Commissioner Sandor has been doing an exemplary job in making the federal government aware of the problems in rural Alaska. Number 525 SENATOR LEMAN referred to page 2, line 23 of the resolution and suggested deleting the word "not" and replace the word "successful" with "enhanced" and change the word "without" to "with." He moved the suggested changes as Amendment No. 1. On page 2 lines 32 and 33, as Amendment No. 2, he suggested deleting the words "is necessary if" and replace with the phrase "will enable accelerated transformation for" and then delete the phrase" are to no longer to consigned to" and insert the word "from." TAPE 93-17, SIDE B Number 010 There was brief discussion on Senator Leman's proposed amendments. COMMISSIONER SANDOR stated his support for the changes, saying that what we really are after is an enhancement of what we are doing in this state. SENATOR ZHAROFF said he thought the changes watered the section down and thought it should be left as is in order to send a strong message. He added that a state that spends $2.5 billion a year on an operating budget and still has the deplorable conditions that we have in our rural communities is totally unacceptable. Number 055 SENATOR LEMAN moved the adoption of Amendment No. 1 Senator Adams objected. A hand vote was taken with the following result: Senators Leman and Phillips voted "Yea"; Senators Adams, Taylor and Zharoff voted "Nay." The Chair stated the motion failed. SENATOR LEMAN moved and asked unanimous consent that Amendment No. 2 be adopted. Hearing no objection, the motion carried. Number 075 WILLIE GOODWIN, Mayor of Kotzebue, voiced his support for SJR 25. He said currently, raw sewage, in some cases, is being mixed with chemicals which they didn't have years ago. In some cases, it is being dumped by the rivers. DEC does have the ability to give permits to municipalities to dump secondary sewage. They do it in Kotzebue because their sewer lagoon is overflowing every year. Mr. Goodwin also said landfills are posing a health hazard in the communities. In the last forty years, Kotzebue has moved its dump three times. He said there are other communities in the state that have a landfill problem and EPA is coming down hard on them, and it is very difficult for the smaller communities to be able to even manage their own dumps. Mr. Goodwin said his community has worked as a partnership with the federal government and with the state government in the past and they have been successful. Number 130 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS proposed a conceptual amendment which would add sending copies of the resolution to heads of the various federal agencies involved in the effort. SENATOR TAYLOR moved that Hillary Clinton be added to that list and that the conceptual amendment be adopted. Hearing no objection, the motion carried. Number 145 SENATOR TAYLOR moved that SJR 25, as amended, be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.