Murkowski Directs Significant Water, Wastewater Investments for Alaska Through Interior Appropriations Bill

As Ranking Member, Murkowski Delivers Another Round of Big Wins for Alaska

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) delivered another round of big wins for Alaska in the FY24 Interior-Environment Appropriations Act. Murkowski, who serves as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, directed significant investments to water and wastewater systems for communities throughout Alaska while also supporting funding to research the salmon decline crisis in the state. 

Following the full committee markup, all 12 appropriations bills are now on their way to the Senate floor for full consideration.  

“I’m proud to advance legislation that is focused on providing access to clean drinking water in Alaska,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski, Ranking Member of the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee.  “I worked to direct significant support to underserved and unserved communities in Alaska, and I’m glad to see we are one step closer to ensuring communities like Mekoryuk and Chefornak have running water and wastewater collection for the first time.”

“This bill also will expand access to public lands, invest in wildfire mitigation efforts, clean up contaminated lands, and support Native communities and cultures. One of the state’s top priorities was also funded: spending directed to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to respond to the crisis in salmon declines while also researching and monitoring changes to the health of the salmon environments. I look forward to the full Senate considering and passing this important bill.”


FY24 Interior-Environment Appropriations Bill Highlights:

Cleaning up Contaminated Lands

Senator Murkowski prioritized funding to address contaminated lands in Alaska, providing $30 million for the ANCSA Contaminated Lands Grant, and also funding the BLM Legacy Well Remediation for Alaska at $30.9 million. Her efforts will ensure that people have better access to safer, cleaner lands while also protecting them from future harm caused by potential contamination.


Supporting Alaska Native Peoples and Communities

From support for small tribes, MMIW activities, and maternal health services to aiding in the implementation of Indian Child Welfare Act provisions, Senator Murkowski’s work in this bill helps Alaska Native families and children. She worked to include funding for Native arts and cultural programs. She included $31.7 million for land conveyance activities in Alaska, including the implementation of the Alaska Native Veterans Program of 2019. Senator Murkowski also led on efforts to support subsistence hunters, ensuring that the Office of Subsistence Management (OSM) prioritize the voices and needs of Alaska Native people. Thanks to her work, the OSM will move from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to management by the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, allowing for rural Alaskans to have stronger agency over work relating to federal subsistence.


Enhancing Land Assessments, Environmental Health  

From expanding landslide surveying, critical mineral assessments, research efforts related to rivers and stream health, to funding the Targeted Airshed Grants program at $69.9 million to support the community of Fairbanks—Senator Murkowski included several provisions within the bill that are aimed at improving environmental health.


PILT Payments

Senator Murkowski worked to ensure that the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program is fully funded. The PILT program provides monetary compensation to local governments in order to support vital public services, and is critical to communities across the state for public safety efforts, construction of roads and public buildings, and more.


Mitigating the Threat of Wildfires and Supporting the Firefighter Workforce

Senator Murkowski led on including funding that would provide significant support for the federal wildland fire workforce while also supporting the U.S. Forest Service with wildland fire suppression efforts. Her work includes increasing pay to wildland firefighters while also investing in housing and mental health programs to improve their quality of life—ensuring that agencies can both hire and retain quality firefighters.


Murkowski’s 35 Congressionally Directed Spending Wins for Alaska:

  • Kake: $3.61 million for a project that will provide remediation for a highly contaminated former school building in Kake by removing building debris and contaminated soil.
  • Bethel: $5.01 million for a project to remove the numerous derelict vessels found at Steamboat Slough to prevent public and environmental health risks.
  • Statewide: $1.7 million to the Ocean Conservancy to support a pilot program for backhaul of marine debris from multiple remote coastal communities in Alaska, likely including Dutch Harbor, St. George, St. Paul, Pt. Heiden, Nome, and Yakutat.
  • Fairbanks: $1.5 million to protect public health and the environment by utilizing a biosolids treatment unit.
  • Dillingham: $4.72 million to expand capacity and improve operations of Dillingham’s landfill.
  • Whittier: $5 million to perform a partial building assessment and remediate the contamination in the Buckner Building of Whittier—where there is a significant concern regarding the building's high level of asbestos, lead, PCBs, and petroleum contamination.
  • Aleutians East Borough: $$6.71 million for the Denali Commission to address waste and contamination removal from small, isolated communities in Alaska, by outfitting a barge with waste removal, soil, and water treatment equipment.
  • Hooper Bay: $1.5 million for the Native Village of Hooper Bay for waste collection and landfill improvements.
  • Angoon: $3 million to improve Angoon’s community landfill and waste management system, including the storage and transportation of solid waste.
  • Gustavus: $3.02 million to construct a new main building for the Gustavus Disposal & Recycling Center.
  • Pelican: $4 million to make improvements to Pelican’s septic tank and disposal system.
  • Craig: $3 million to engineer and redesign the water system with targeted upgrades to improve capacity, efficiency, and resiliency of water treatment for the City of Craig.
  • Wrangell: $2.5 million to replace the community's aged and inefficient water treatment plant with a new facility to provide safer drinking water as well as better accommodate community changes in demand for water.
  • Anchorage: $1.75 million to replace failing private wells with reliable public water service.
  • Kiana: $500,000 to update 50-year-old lines, pumps, manholes, and other needed infrastructure in Kiana’s water and sewer system.
  • Mat-Su Borough: $5.1 million to replace critical water lines in South Talkeetna.
  • Ketchikan: $1.5 million to eliminate failing sewer mains from throughout Forest Park Drive in order to reduce infiltration and inflow and eliminate mains with deformation and bellies that cause grease build-up and backup.
  • Anchorage: $5.3 million to the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility for public drinking water access.
  • Haines: $2 million for water and sewer upgrades for the Haines Borough’s new community facility.
  • Girdwood: $300,000 to the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility to replace a failing private water service with safe and reliable public water service in Girdwood.
  • Anchorage: $1.2 million to the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility to construct a regional water pipeline to improve emergency and fire protection water transmission and supply. 
  • Anchorage: $3.75 million to the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility for a fire protection well in the Anchorage Terraces subdivision.
  • Statewide: $3.5 million for the Alaska Division of Forestry to provide funding to carry out fuels reduction projects that align with community wildfire protection plans.
  • Denali Borough: $640,000 for pedestrian pathways from Crabbies Crossing to the Denali Park Entrance to enhance safety for the residents adjacent to Denali National Park.
  • Fairbanks: $3.5 million for the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) to acquire a radiocarbon dating instrument and conduct research on identifying rare earth elements, volcano and earthquake activity, and mercury concentrations in food.
  • Ahtna Region: $998,000 for the Ahtna Intertribal Resource Commission for a project that will identify and prioritize critical minerals on abandoned mines and material sites conveyed to Ahtna as an operation of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
  • Statewide: $2 million for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to support a cooperative and comprehensive response to widespread decline of salmon abundances including research, assessment and enhancement activities to rebuild salmon populations to levels capable of sustaining the communities that depend on subsistence, commercial and recreational uses of salmon, including those on Norton Sound and the Yukon, Kuskokwim, Nushagak, and Kenai Rivers.
  • Statewide: $2 million for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for critical salmon stocks research and enhancement to monitor mortality, changes to fecundity, changes to the health and survival of eggs, and other processes.
  • Anchorage: $239,000 for the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) to research the relationship between rock glaciers and downstream water quality through an interdisciplinary comparative field program.
  • Talkeetna: $500,000 for the Talkeetna Historical Society for rehabilitation and support efforts to preserve history for future generations.
  • Nenana: $500,000 for repairs of the SS Nenana, the last remaining sternwheeler in Alaska. The SS Nenana is on the National Register of Historic Places and a National Historic Landmark.
  • Mekoryuk: $5.6 million to provide first time running water and wastewater collection. 
  • Chefornak: $6.4 million to provide first time running water and wastewater collection. 
  • Unalaska: $210,000 to prevent the further loss of Native languages by providing the opportunity for Tribes to receive funding to document and revitalize languages that are at risk of disappearing because of a declining native-speaker population.
  • Anchorage: $631,000 for the Alaska Native Heritage Center for Lach’qu Sukdu Research Program.