WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Indian Health Service (IHS) has announced allocation decisions for $700 million appropriated to the IHS in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which appropriates $700 million in each Fiscal Year from FY 2022 through FY 2026, for a total of $3.5 billion for the IHS Sanitation Facilities Construction Program.
“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is rebuilding roads, expanding access to clean water, promoting environmental justice and investing in communities that have been left behind for too long,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “We are one step closer to addressing sanitation deficiencies in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Improving access to safe water and waste water disposal will improve health outcomes for American Indians and Alaska Natives. This historic infrastructure investment is in response to the longstanding recommendations of tribal leaders shared in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services and IHS.”
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness,” said IHS Acting Director Elizabeth Fowler. “This funding will support crucial sanitation projects that will result in substantial improvements to clean water and sanitation systems in American Indian and Alaska Native communities across the country.”
The funding announced will provide 71,000 American Indian and Alaska Native homes with critical services like water wells and onsite wastewater disposal systems and connections to community water supply and wastewater disposal systems. Improvements to sanitation facilities can reduce inpatient and outpatient visits related to respiratory, skin and soft tissue, and gastroenteric disease. Every $1 spent on water and sewer infrastructure can save $1.23 in avoided direct healthcare costs.
The IHS will allocate approximately $581 million for its Tier 1 project construction costs. When combined with FY 2022 annual appropriations, these resources will support 475 Tier 1 projects. A Tier 1 project is considered ready to fund because planning is complete. The IHS will also allocate $60 million for design and construction document creation activities related to these Tier 1 projects, which include engineering design activities for proposed sanitation facilities, contract documents, and contract plans and specifications.
Tier 2 projects have a level of their engineering assessment complete and have a well understood deficiency and a recommended solution while Tier 3 projects have deficiencies identified but are still in the planning phase, which may include identifying solutions. The IHS will allocate approximately $33 million for the planning, design, and construction contract document creation for Tier 2 and Tier 3 projects. The IHS will also use FY 2022 annual appropriations to support additional planning, design, and construction document creation activities for Tier 2 and Tier 3 projects. The Sanitary Deficiency System (SDS) currently includes 661 Tier 2 projects, totaling approximately $2.2 billion, and 361 Tier 3 projects, totaling approximately $505 million.
Lastly, the allocation includes $21 million for salaries, expenses and administrative costs, $3.5 million for the Office of the Inspector General to oversee IHS’s implementation of these resources, and $1.5 million for special projects, such as studies, training or other needs related to sanitation facilities construction.
These allocation decisions align with recommendations from tribal leaders to prioritize funding for projects that have completed the planning phase and can be immediately placed into the design and construction phase, and to provide sufficient funding for planning and design activities to get projects ready to fund.