From KUER (Kate Groetzinger):
The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a clear connection between access to clean water and public health, according to Navajo tribal member Bidtah Becker.
Becker is part of a group called the Water & Tribes Initiative that advocates for water access in Indian Country. She said the pandemic has made it easier to ask Congress for money to solve the problem.
“The conversation has shifted from, ‘Oh no, you could never get that amount of money.’ And there’s always a little subtext of, ‘Are you really deserving of that money?’” she said. “Now it’s like, ‘Yes. Everybody needs clean drinking water. No questions asked.”
Becker said a significant amount of funding is needed to bring clean, running water to every Native American household in the U.S.
Her group hired University of Utah law professor Heather Tanana to compile a report on the issues tribes in the Colorado River Basin face when it comes to clean water delivery. Tanana, who is Navajo, looked at four components: lack of infrastructure, contamination, increasing demand and insufficient maintenance funding.
“Even though we only looked at the Colorado River Basin tribes, we can confidently say every tribe in the U.S. is dealing with one of these issues,” she said.