EPA announces over $15M to the Indian Health Service to improve access to drinking #water in Tribal communities

Navajo Nation. Image via Cronkite News.

Here’s the release from the Environmental Protection Agency:

Today [October 6, 2021], the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $15.8 million in water infrastructure funding for projects that will improve access to safe drinking water for the Tuscarora Nation, the Navajo Nation, and the Alaska Native Village of Tununak. This funding, which will be placed into an interagency agreement between EPA and the Indian Health Service (IHS), will be used to boost public health protections by improving access to safe water for drinking, cooking, and hygiene.

“While most people have access to reliable and safe water, some communities lack this basic necessity—even today,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “With this grant funding, EPA will help build drinking water systems to improve water access and water quality for the Tuscarora and Navajo people and the residents of Tununak.”

EPA is awarding this grant funding to the Indian Health Service, which is prioritizing projects in three Tribal communities through interagency agreements:

  • The agreement will support the development of an interconnected water source to Tuscarora Nation, which currently relies on private well water from a highly contaminated ground water source or bulk water delivery. The agreement will prioritize $5.6 million in WIIN grant funding to improve water access.
  • The agreement will focus $3.8 million to support three well projects to benefit Navajo Nation. This funding will help address widespread public health concerns and water supply vulnerabilities by improving access to safe drinking water.
  • The agreement will provide over $6.4 to support the Alaskan Native Village of Tununak. The effort will improve water access and support the creation of a new public water system to benefit the community.
  • “Today’s grant is a step forward for the thousands of Navajo families who have waited too long for access to safe and reliable drinking water,” said U.S. Senator Mark Kelly. “In the Senate, I remain committed to ensuring that the water infrastructure needs of Arizona’s tribal communities are addressed.”

    “Access to clean drinking water has been and continues to be a challenge for Native American communities across the country. On Navajo Nation, the Diné people—myself included—have struggled to haul water from livestock wells to their homes for cooking, bathing, and so forth,” said Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency Executive Director Valinda Shirley. “This $3.8 million investment in access to clean water will transform the lives of many families across Navajo Nation.”

    Background

    These projects are funded under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act’s Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities Tribal Grant Program. Under this program, and through an interagency agreement with the Indian Health Service, EPA is awarding a total of $24 million in critical infrastructure needs for Tribal communities. EPA previously awarded $9 million to the Alaskan Native Villages of Tuluksak and Stebbins in April 2021.

    For more information, visit: https://www.epa.gov/tribaldrinkingwater/wiin-act-section-2104-assistance-small-and-disadvantaged-communities-tribal

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