WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of the Interior announced that $10.65 million provided by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be used for vital repairs and upgrades for Indian Affairs-owned water systems. These systems serve tribal workplaces, schools, detention centers and more.
The law invests more than $13 billion directly in tribal communities across the country, including a total of $466 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs over five years, which includes funding for water and sanitation projects.
“Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, historic investments in tribal water infrastructure will help ensure every community has access to safe, clean drinking water,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “This critical funding in water sanitation and water systems will facilitate much-needed repairs and upgrades for tribal water systems, supporting our efforts to safeguard sacred water resources and water rights in Indigenous communities.”
“Operational, efficient and resilient water systems are necessary to protect our communities and fulfill our agency’s trust responsibilities,” said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “This investment will allow us to address challenges such as climate change and chemical contamination that impact the aging water systems of Indian Affairs, so that we can continue to provide safe drinking water for Indigenous communities.”
These funds will be used to address Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notice of violations, contamination issues, critical risks of system failure, and other system upgrades as needed.
The following three projects will be supported with the funding:
- $8.72 million for the Hopi Arsenic Management Project in Arizona to cover infrastructure upgrades necessary to connect three BIA-owned water systems with the regional water system funded by the Indian Health Service and EPA. This investment is critical to address naturally occurring elevated arsenic concentrations in the groundwater wells of three water systems.
- $1.05 million for the Nez Perce Northern Idaho Water System to replace current the water storage and distribution system. This investment is critical to address widespread deficiencies and deteriorated infrastructure that resulted in an emergency order from the EPA on the water system in 2018.
- $880,000 for Columbia River In-lieu Treaty Fishing Sites to cover engineering and design services for infrastructure upgrades needed to address water sanitation and contribute to the progress being made on projects authorized under the Columbia River In-Lieu and Treaty Fishing Access Sites Improvement Act.
Assistant Secretary Newland announced these critical investments from the banks of the Columbia River along with leadership of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission who operate and maintain 31 fishing sites along the Columbia River that are for the use of fishers from the commission’s four member Tribes: Warm Springs, Umatilla, Yakama and Nez Perce.