On November 26, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that nearly $30 million in funding for 87 tribes in California will be invested in environmental restoration and water infrastructure renewal.
“This vital funding helps tribes provide safe drinking water to their communities and maintain programs important to protecting the environment,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “EPA is committed to helping improve the quality of life on tribal lands.”
EPA awarded nearly $23.1 million to tribes in California to fund projects related to watershed protection and restoration, water quality monitoring, water and energy efficiency, and wastewater recycling and treatment.
Another $7.2 million will fund support from the Indian Health Service (IHS) for tribal drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, plant operator training and technical assistance. IHS will use $439,000 of these funds to install emergency generators to power public water and wastewater treatment systems during public service power shutdowns (planned power outages intended to prevent wildfires during hot, windy conditions). The generators will support drinking water and wastewater systems for seven tribes.
Tribes in California will also use EPA funding to develop programs to monitor, protect and improve air quality, and build public awareness of these efforts.
Additional examples of work being funded:
- Colusa Indian Community Council will use EPA funds to leverage opportunities to improve water quality on the reservation through prevention, reduction and elimination of pollution. EPA funding will also help the tribe develop and implement a water quality monitoring program.
- Hopland Band of Pomo Indians in California will use EPA funding to train tribal members in community-scale composting, building community support, launching community-based agriculture, and understanding the advantages of food waste recovery compared to composting.
- Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians will use EPA funds to increase and promote composting during public events with the newly established tribal greenhouse program. Funds will also be used to increase capacity for the tribe’s drinking water program and to develop a drought management plan focused on protecting community and environmental health.
- Torres Martinez Indian Tribe will use EPA funding to complete construction of the Torrez Martinez Community Sewer. The project will connect more than 30 homes to the community septic systems and remove them from aging septic tank drainfield systems.
- Tule River Indian Tribe will use EPA funds to build a water storage tank to address elevated arsenic and radium levels in drinking water. This project will provide improved drinking water to about 2,500 people.
November was Native American Heritage Month. EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region encompasses more than half of all tribal lands in the United States and works on a government-to-government basis with 148 federally recognized tribes. EPA recognizes tribal governments as the primary parties for setting standards, making environmental policy decisions, and managing programs for reservations.
Photo of California’s Merced River via Adobe Stock.