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Alaska Native group to receive EPA funds for clean water projects

The agency is handing out $4.3 million to participating tribal organizations nationwide.

The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium was granted $184,000 for water infrastructure improvements, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday.

According to the news release, the agency is handing out $4.3 million to participating tribal organizations nationwide in an effort to help consortia create and expand programs to test for lead in drinking water at schools and other child care programs in tribal communities.

The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act went into effect in 2016, according to the EPA. The act “addresses, supports, and improves America’s drinking water infrastructure” and “promote(s) public health and the protection of the environment.”

ANTHC is a nonprofit tribal health organization designed to provide medical care to Alaska Native and American Indian people in the state. According to the consortium, it is the largest and most comprehensive tribal health organization in the country.

Francine Moreno, the manager of utility operations at the consortium, said in the release that the organization is appreciative of the grant initiative.

“The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium appreciates the opportunity presented by EPA to work with schools and childcare facilities in rural Alaskan communities to identify, support and train on lead exposure in drinking water,” Moreno said. “Lead identification and education is the first step to reducing negative health impacts to our rural Alaska families and future generations.”

According to the EPA news release, the consortium plans to test drinking water for lead in rural areas and provide education about lead exposure.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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