Warmer winter ahead for Southeast students
CLIA Alaska donated nearly 1,000 jackets to children in Southeast Alaska through the nonprofit Operation Warm, in partnership with the Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation.
Operation Warm provides new winter coats to children in need throughout the U.S. by partnering with corporations and community organizations. According to the group, more than 16 million children in the United States live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level.
Almost half of the jackets went to the Juneau School District. “Juneau is an important community for the cruise lines,” John Binkley, president of CLIA Alaska, said. “We are pleased to partner with the Juneau School District to help students that can use a new and warm coat.“
The Juneau School District currently has 150 children enrolled in the Students and Families in Transition Program, according to the Juneau Empire. This program helps children and families that do not have a fixed, regular or adequate nighttime residence.
However, the number of children in need far exceeds these 150 students. Juneau School District Board of Education President Brian Holst explained. “Our total enrollment is 4,724 students and 27 percent qualify for Free and Reduced Meals based on federal guidelines. This means that about 1,275 of our students are living in poverty or low-income households.
“Corporate donors fill a great need and make a difference in the lives of children in our community,” Holst said. “Brand new winter coats help make our students feel valued and let them know that their community cares about their well- being.”
One hundred and eighty jackets went to Ketchikan; 102 to Hoonah Big Brothers, Big Sisters; 90 to the Sitka School District; 33 to Skagway First Presbyterian Church; 13 to the Haines School District and 76 to Tlingit Haida Head Start.
Wastewater treatment & permits
Cruise ships discharge water that is treated to some of the world’s most stringent standards. Michelle Bonnet Hale, director of the Division of Water in the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), said it would be a step backward to require ships to hook up to community-based systems, as some have suggested. “Ironically, the discharge limits on the cruise ships are more stringent than those of the community systems. Cruise ship effluent is cleaner.”
After the Alaska State Legislature passed tough, new wastewater discharge standards in 2001, the industry invested more than $200 million to develop and install onboard technology to comply with these standards, including retrofitting existing ships. Today, cruise ships in Alaska have some of the best, most advanced wastewater treatment facilities in the U.S.
In February 2013, the Alaska Legislature passed, and Gov. Sean Parnell signed, HB 80, which allows DEC to permit operation of wastewater discharges from large commercial vessels in a manner consistent with other dischargers.
The law was supported by the findings of the Cruise Ship Science Advisory Panel, which was charged by the Legislature to examine wastewater treatment systems used by commercial passenger vessels, identify other “economically feasible methods” that could be employed and then analyze “environmental benefit and cost” of requiring additional technology.
“The Science Panel concluded that given the current level of wastewater treatment and quality of effluent, along with very large dilution factors, there would be little, if any, demonstrable environmental benefit in requiring cruise ships to adopt, in the future, potential additional treatment methods,” the governor wrote to the Legislature. The Science Panel’s reports are posted here. https://dec.alaska.gov/water/cruise_ships/SciencePanel/index.htm