WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) announced that it will dedicate more than $20 million in infrastructure funding to projects that will improve access to safe drinking water for American Indian and Alaska Native populations. This funding will significantly boost public health protections for these communities by improving their ability to obtain safe water for drinking, cooking, and handwashing.
“EPA is working to ensure that all Americans—regardless of their zip code—have clean water for drinking and recreation,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “EPA’s infrastructure funding will support public health in American Indian and Alaska Native communities by providing needed funding to connect populations to reliable and safe drinking water.”
“EPA is committed to ensuring that tribal communities are provided sustainable, long-term access to safe drinking water,” said Chad McIntosh, EPA Assistant Administrator for International and Tribal Affairs. “Providing clean drinking water is one of the EPA tribal program’s highest priorities.”
EPA is committed to ensuring that all Americans, including tribal communities, are provided sustainable, long-term access to safe drinking water. This funding is available under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act’s Small and Disadvantaged Community program. For the 2020 round of funding, EPA is focusing on access to safe drinking water in underserved communities. Current Indian Health Service data indicates that tribal populations lack access to drinking water at far greater numbers than non-tribal populations. Consistent with the goals of the Federal Infrastructure Task Force to Improve Access to Safe Drinking Water and Basic Sanitation to Tribal Communities, EPA anticipates funding projects in tribal communities with the greatest need for access to drinking water, which include Alaska Native Villages, the Navajo Nation, and tribal populations in New York.
Additionally, this week EPA announced how it will distribute $4.3 million under the separate WIIN Act Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water Tribal Grant Program. This funding will be used to help protect children in tribal communities from lead in drinking water at schools and childcare facilities.
The 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act) addresses, supports, and improves America’s drinking water infrastructure. Included in the WIIN Act are three drinking water grants that promote public health and the protection of the environment. Since 2018, EPA has made available $875 thousand to assist public water systems in tribal, small, and disadvantaged communities meet Safe Drinking Water Act requirements and $3 million to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water in tribal communities. In July, EPA announced $4.3 million to prioritize the testing for lead in drinking water at tribal schools and child care programs. EPA has six recognized tribal consortia that will receive funding under this grant. EPA anticipates awarding this funding in 2021.
For more information visit: www.epa.gov/safewater/grants.