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Testimony

Submitted to the
Alaska Natives Commission
in connection with a hearing at

Fairbanks, Alaska
July 18, 1992

ALASKA NATIVES COMMISSION
JOINT FEDERAL-STATE COMMISSION
ON
POLICIES AND PROGRAMS AFFECTING ALASKA NATIVES
4000 Old Seward Highway, Suite 100
Anchorage, Alaska 99503

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Witness List | Exhibit List | PDF Version

 

Deposition Exhibit #10 - Testimony of Dennis M. Taddy

 

TESTIMONY
Presented to ALASKA NATIVES COMMISSION
July 18, 1992
HEALTH CATEGORY
Environmental Health Issues
by
Dennis M. Taddy
TCC Engineer
SANITATION FACILITIES

The Indian Sanitation Facilities Act, Public Law 86-121 was enacted to "provide essential sanitation facilities" for American Indians and Alaskan Natives. Today, over thirty-three years later we are still working to provide “essential" facilities to Alaska's first people. The reasons for this simple task still being incomplete are as numerous as the number of individuals working to solve the problem. I believe that some of the major problems are: a) the funding need is great; b) the myriad of funding agencies; c) lack of village involvement; d) inappropriate technology; and e) the training of village people.

The IHS FY92 Sanitation Deficiency System for the State of Alaska reported 378 projects with a total cost of over $1,000,000,000. Of those projects more than five-hundred million dollars are to provide or improve potable water systems. In a typical year 10 to 15 projects will be funded. The State of Alaska, Department of Environmental Conservation, Village Safe Water Program (VSW) for the same time period had approximately one hundred grant requests with a cost of over one-hundred million dollars to address sanitization facilities projects. The state funded approximately $25,000,000 worth of projects. EPA also funded about $9,000,000 worth of projects, part of that funding was for projects in the lower forty-eight. EPA funded projects were limited to waste water system improvements.

This funding problem does not even address one part of sanitation facilities that we all take for granted that being running water in the village health clinic. The vast majority of the clinics have an igloo cooler which provides water for the Community Health Aides to wash their hands. The bucket of waste water is dumped into the pit privy or thrown out the back door at the end of the day.

Villages face a major obstacle in identifying funding agencies and completing applications even if they are aware of the agency. IHS is the easiest for them to work with because Congress has along with grant funds they provide staffing specifically to aide in project development, design, construction, project accounting, administration and training. The VSW program has engineers to provide some assistance to the village through the hiring of a consultant. All other agencies (i.e. HUD-ICDBG, EPA, Soil Conservation Services, FHA, etc.) provide virtually no assistance to the tribe. EPA when it initially started funding Indian set-a-side projects required an entirely different reporting system than what IHS had been doing. This to me seemed very strange considering that most of the data used by Congress to create this special legislation was based on the IHS data system. This lack of technical assistance leads to communities: not getting projects funded, inappropriate design, inefficient construction, no training and/or no concept of the villages long term commitment.

While the dollars needed to address the sanitation needs of the Alaskan Natives are great, I don't believe that is the major obstacle to the provision of sanitation facilities. For many years those providing technical assistance to the Alaska Natives failed to work cooperatively with the tribes in the provision of sanitation facilities. In many cases it has appeared to me that facilities that were constructed during the 70's and 80's were built irrespective of village desires or needs. Even today, technical experts periodically provide facilities without consideration of tribal desires. This problem at least for IHS funds is, in part, exacerbated by the delay in construction dollars getting to the Alaska Area Native Health Service office. Without village input during the planning and design phase, it leads to no village☺

There has been in the past problems with the construction being inappropriate or inadequate. For the most part that has been corrected, but there are facilities with some necessary safety features. The death in Hooper Bay from fluoride poisoning was in part a result of the lack of several redundant safety features. Also, of those projects several are to correct past inappropriate and inadequate facilities. Further, AANHS and VSW have found it difficult to adopt standards for the various components in the normal village sanitation facilities.

The last major problem that has led to deficient sanitation facilities in the villages has been the training provided was a one time shot without any follow-up. This coupled with complicated systems led to failures that have had to be replaced or repaired at huge costs, many times as an emergency which raises the cost of an already expensive project. The state has recognized the need for follow-up on job training for village operators. They have created a grant that provides Remote Maintenance Workers who go to village and provide OJT to the operators. But that program only covers about half the state.

Tanana Chiefs Conference, Inc. has taken a very active role in initiating changes that we believe will help in providing and maintaining essential sanitation facilities in the villages. We have strongly urged villages to take charge of their own destiny. For sanitation facilities to operate successfully the villages must assume responsibility for the systems presently in. the village. We recognize that there may be problems with these facilities and we will help in every way to correct them or identify agencies that can correct the problem.

The first step to providing sanitation facilities is for the villages to develop a mater(?) plan for future sanitation facilities improvements, and the subsequent acceptance by granting agencies of that plan. To date that has met varying degrees of acceptance with the two major grantors in Alaska.

Secondly, TCC through their Remote Maintenance Worker Program attempted to get AANHS and VSW to develop standard components for sanitation facilities. To date that has met complete resistance, and further, both agencies refuse to develop and/or follow standards of their own.

Another step in the provision of sanitation facilities is the coordination of the grant application process for the multiple agencies. This one, we to date do not have a clue on how it would be best accomplished, but it might be possible through the A.S/VSW as they are the two largest grantors in the state.

TCC has initiated a very aggressive role in providing training to village operators for the operation of their facilities. We have found most all villages, and their respective operators, ready and willing to accept responsibility and accountability for the sanitation facilities in the community. In conjunction with that we have initiated a contract with a private consultant to develop a Village Utilities Management Guide and a Training Manual. This is being developed with input from agencies throughout the state to insure that it is comprehensive and universally acceptable through-out the state. Further, TCC has signed an agreement with ADEC to cooperatively work with the member villages to resolve deficiencies in their system.

In conclusion we here at TCC believe the first step in solving the problems in bush Alaska is to recognize that the village must be an integral member of the team to 'provide essential sanitation facilities". Our job as team members is to recognize their needs, knowledge, desires, hopes and dreams for a healthy and better future.


This document was ocr scanned. We have made every attempt to keep the online document the same as the original, including the recorder's original misspellings or typos.

 

 
 

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Last modified May 12, 2011