The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a suite of actions to improve access to safe and reliable drinking water and wastewater services for American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages. These actions will include the renewal of the Tribal Infrastructure Task Force (ITF) to improve coordination between federal agencies on water, wastewater and sanitation projects in Indian Country. The agency is also announcing $154 million for Tribes and Alaska Native Villages through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and an additional $2.6 million under the agency’s Small, Underserved, and Disadvantaged Communities (SUDC) Grant program. These commitments will help accelerate needed progress to improve public health and environmental protections for historically underserved communities.
“With President Biden’s leadership, EPA is committed to supporting Tribes and working to ensure that these communities have clean and safe water,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The agency will deepen its collaboration with federal partners and bring strategic resources to address these longstanding challenges. With funding through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we will accelerate investment in water infrastructure that is essential to healthy communities.”
EPA’s new funding memorandum will guide the distribution of $154 million in FY22 Tribal water infrastructure funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). The memo is a key implementation step that outlines requirements and recommendations for the Tribal Set-Asides of the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds to ensure access to safe drinking water and wastewater management in Tribal communities. Eligible projects include replacing lead pipes and addressing PFAS and other emerging contaminants. In addition, EPA is announcing the availability of $2.6 million in funding from the Tribal Small, Underserved, and Disadvantaged Communities (SUDC) Grant program.
At the same time, EPA and partners across the federal government have renewed the Tribal Infrastructure Task Force to improve federal government coordination efforts to deliver water infrastructure and financial assistance to American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages. The ITF will provide members with a focused platform for coordination and communication as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law initiatives are implemented.
In light of the disproportionate impact of environmental pollution on Native Americans, EPA is committed to strengthening its nation-to-nation relationship with American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages. In keeping with the Federal Trust Responsibility, the agency will endeavor to protect the environmental interests of Tribal Nations when carrying out its responsibilities that affect Indian country. The actions being announced today support this commitment and are in line with the October 2021 EPA Office of Water Action Plan titled Strengthening our Nation-to-Nation Relationship with Tribes to Secure a Sustainable Water Future.