ANCHORAGE - Alaska may get more federal money next year for plumbing in rural Alaska homes.
A joint House-Senate committee last week approved an agriculture spending bill that includes $24 million for rural Alaska water and sewer projects. That's in addition to $40 million in another bill approved by Congress last week and brings the federal total to $9 million more than was approved last year.
Although nearly 75 percent of Alaska homes now have flush toilets, the percentage of unplumbed homes is still the highest in the country.
The state's goal is to bring water and wastewater service to all households by 2005.
Money approved this year will build new systems in villages now served only by central watering points, said Dan Easton, director of facility construction and operation for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.
The money also will extend service to homes in communities with limited systems, Easton said. To get it, the state must provide a one-third match.
"We'll be working with governor's office to prepare a list that will likely include about 70 rural sanitation projects," Easton said.
The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium is also building sanitation infrastructure using separate federal funds.