Biden administration announces more than $278 million for Tribes, Alaska Native Villages

At an event in June with Lummi Nation in Bellingham, Wash., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox, announced more than $278 million in funding to improve access to safe and reliable drinking water and wastewater services for American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages.

According to EPA it’s the largest ever investment of annual water infrastructure funding to Tribes, and will help Tribes and Alaska Native Villages make significant investments in water infrastructure improvements to advance public health protections by improving compliance with existing water regulations, identifying and replacing lead service lines, and addressing harmful contaminants in drinking water and wastewater.

“For too long, Tribes have struggled without access to basic water services—impacting their health and economic well-being. [This] funding announcement is a generational investment that moves us closer to achieving a future where all Tribes have access to safe drinking water and wastewater services,” said Fox.

The funding will be administered through the following programs:

  • $64 million in FY 2023 Clean Water Indian Set-Aside (CWISA) through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and annual appropriation funds;
  • $130.3 million in FY 2023 Drinking Water Infrastructure Grants through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and annual appropriation funds;
  • $38.6 million in combined FY 2022 and FY 2023 Emerging Contaminants in Small or Disadvantaged Communities (EC-SDC) Tribal Grant Program through Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds;
  • $5.6 million in combined FY 2022 and FY 2023 Small, Underserved, and Disadvantaged Communities (SUDC) Tribal Grant Program through annual appropriation funds, and
  • $39.6 million in FY 2023 Alaska Rural and Native Villages (ANV) Grant Program through annual appropriation funds.

“This funding opportunity isn’t just a great opportunity for our Nation, but a great opportunity for all Tribal Nations that are looking for assistance with tribal water systems,” said Lummi Vice Chairman Terrence Adams. “Tribal people have an important relationship with the water, and we believe that it is our inherent responsibility to take care of the water as it cares for us.”

Some of the funding will come from the new Emerging Contaminants in Small or Disadvantaged Communities (EC-SDC) Tribal Grant Program. For the first time, EPA will provide $38.6 million to address emerging contaminants, including PFAS, in drinking water systems serving Tribal populations. The announcement also includes an implementation manual for the new program that focuses on assisting small tribal public water systems in identifying and/or remediating challenges related to PFAS and other emerging contaminants.

Approximately $5.6 million of today’s funding announcement comes from the Small, Underserved and Disadvantaged Communities Tribal Grant Program. This tribal grant program is designed to help public water systems in underserved and small tribal communities gain access to drinking water services and comply with Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.

Also included is funding for the Alaska Rural and Native Villages (ANV) Grant Program, a program that has been in place since 1996. This $39.6 million in funding will support Alaska Native Villages with the construction of high priority drinking water and wastewater facilities in rural Alaska as well as training, technical assistance, and educational programs in support of sustainable water systems.

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