Choctaw Nation Aids Local Water Resources

Identifying vulnerabilities to ensure clean, safe water


October 25, 2019

Christian Toews/ Choctaw Nation

Ethan Shuth, water resources manager for the Choctaw Nation, plans to expand the assistance provided by the tribe to local water authorities in southeastern Oklahoma."

Public water systems in southeastern Oklahoma will soon receive assistance allowing them to operate more efficiently and safely, thanks to a grant received by the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

The $197,454 grant funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation allows the Choctaw Nation to assist the City of Antlers, Town of Talihina, and Sardis Lake Water Authority examine their operations and determine cost-effective ways to maintain and operate within regulations.

"We're becoming concerned that repeated violations by public water systems may indicate infrastructure or treatment issues that need to be addressed," said Ethan Schuth, the Choctaw Nation's water resources manager. "We'd like to help local communities stabilize their public water systems and remain in compliance."

According to a study, published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, up to 21 million Americans were getting water from systems that violate health standards in 2015. The Choctaw Nation is taking a more active role in helping these communities better manage their water and wastewater by offering both technical and financial assistance.

"Clean water is something everyone expects and requires," said Schuth. "When public water systems experience problems and issue public alerts, or are cited for falling outside safety codes, this reduces the confidence business owners and citizens have in the ability of their local governments to operate effectively."

"A lot about our operation is electronic-the equipment is highly computerized and complex and is expensive to repair," said Mike Taylor, who manages Antlers' water treatment system. Taylor explained that it is much harder to remain in compliance with new water treatment regulations. "It's especially challenging for us in small towns," he said. "We can't afford outside consultants and even if we did, they don't really understand the circumstances we operate under. The Choctaw Nation does."

Don Faulkner, a trustee of the town of Talihina and of its Public Works Authority, agreed, "The circumstances here are pretty challenging. Our operating environment is complex. We're very thankful to have the Choctaw Nation help us identify vulnerabilities in our treatment system.

About The Choctaw Nation

The Choctaw Nation is the third-largest Indian Nation in the United States with close to 200,000 tribal members and 10,000 employees. The first tribe over the Trail of Tears, the historic boundaries are in the southeast corner of Oklahoma. The Choctaw Nation's vision, "Living out the Chahta Spirit of faith, family and culture," is evident as it continues to focus on providing opportunities for growth and prosperity. For more information about the Choctaw Nation, its culture, heritage and traditions, please go to http://www.choctaw


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