Cherokee Nation names 120Water LCR database of record

In its effort to providing program management tools to rural water systems, 120Water has been selected by the Cherokee Nation as its Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) database of record.

The partnership will expand on a successful pilot carried out earlier this year, assisting in the preparation of Lead Service Line Inventories (LSLI) for 25 small systems across northeast Oklahoma. The announcement took place in April at the Facilities Construction Spring Meeting in Shawnee, hosted by the Indian Health Services (IHS) Office of Environmental Health & Engineering.

“Since 1839, the Cherokee Nation has dedicated itself to protecting and improving the livelihood of our tribal community,” said Cherokee Nation Senior Director of Environmental Health & Engineering Billy Hix. “We are grateful to have found a partner that shares this commitment and comes with extensive experience working with communities that are of similar size to those within our territory. We feel confident their experience will correlate directly to our success achieving LCRR compliance.” 

As the first major stipulation outlined in the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR), water utilities have until October 16, 2024, to establish a preliminary inventory of all service line materials. Information must be digital and submitted to the governing body responsible for reporting in each state, which for the Cherokee Nation is the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ). The 120Water contract includes historical records review and inventory development, with funding assistance provided by the IHS. 

The partnership announcement comes on the heels of the release of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 7th Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment (DWINSA), which estimates $625 billion needed over the next 20 years to maintain and modernize water infrastructure. Report findings were used to determine annual funding to states through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). With a prediction of more than 28,000 lead service lines, Oklahoma is slated to receive $28.6 million specifically for Lead Service Line Replacement (LSLR) improvements across the state. An additional $60 million has been set aside for American Indian and Alaska Native water systems nationally. The Cherokee Nation hopes its work with 120Water will assist in helping obtain funds required to continue the lead remediation process beyond inventorying.

Hix adds, “This first phase of our work with 120Water is only the tip of the iceberg. We have a total of just over 130 utilities within our reservation that also have to comply with the many facets of LCRR. It’s the first step in a long journey ahead.”

Encompassing nearly 7,000 square miles, the Cherokee Nation is a sovereign tribal government with more than 141,000 citizens residing within its reservation boundaries.

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