U.S. EPA Announces more than $25 Million for Environmental Improvements on Tribal Lands in California
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced over $25 million in funding to invest in California tribes for environmental programs, water and wastewater infrastructure development, community education and capacity building. The announcement was made at the 23rd Annual Regional Tribal Conference in Reno, Nev.
“Tribes have made great progress in protecting the environment and improving public health in Indian Country,” said Jared Blumenfeld, regional administrator for EPA’s Pacific Southwest office. “These grants will help support the significant accomplishments that have been achieved through the collaborative efforts of the California tribes and the federal government.”
This year, about $12.5 million will support water quality projects and water infrastructure for California tribes. Approximately $7.3 million will help tribes support a wide variety of water quality projects including watershed protection and restoration, water and energy efficiency, wastewater reclamation, and treatment systems. Another $5.2 million will go to the California Indian Health Service offices to support tribal drinking and wastewater water infrastructure, plant operator training, and technical assistance.
For example, the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians located in Southern California will use funds for watershed water quality improvements and drought mitigation. The project will implement a septic system inspection and outreach program, install infiltration basins for sinks at parks and other recreation areas and two rainwater harvesting systems.
The California tribes will use an additional $10.5 million to continue tribal environmental programs, cleanup open dumps, conduct small construction projects, targeted community outreach, climate change adaptation planning and community education—the cornerstone of tribal environmental programs. For example, the Owens Valley Indian Water Commission will provide drought outreach to tribes in the Eastern Sierra, which includes hosting training on voluntary water conservation practices and assisting tribal officials with creating codes and ordinances to encourage water-wise behaviors in their communities.
In addition to the funding above, EPA provided $2.1 million to support other environmental efforts at tribes in the state, including development of programs to monitor, protect, and improve air quality, clean up contaminated lands, and share and analyze environmental data to support decision-making.
These funds are critical in building the capacity of tribes to carry out environmental work. Because most tribes in the Pacific Southwest have small governments, one goal of the funding is to assist tribes in developing their ability to establish environmental protection programs and make informed decisions about issues that impact the health of their people and the quality of their environment. The funds are used to develop environmental and public health ordinances, and coordinate with adjacent jurisdictions.
The EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region is home to 148 tribal nations with half of Indian Country nationwide concentrated in three states; Indian Country in California, Arizona and Nevada is about equal to area of the six New England states combined.
For more information please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region9/tribal