SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $23.5 million in funding to 15 Arizona tribes, including the Navajo Nation, to invest in environmental programs and water infrastructure. These funds, together with about $2.9 million EPA awarded earlier in the year, brings the total agency investment for tribes in Arizona this year to $26.4 million.
EPA made the announcement at its Pacific Southwest Region’s 25th Annual Tribal Conference held at the Viejas Casino and Resort in Alpine, Calif., and hosted by the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians.
“This funding will help tribes provide safe drinking water to their communities and support environmental programs,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “These vital grants have a significant impact on the environment and quality of life in Indian Country.”
Over $5.2 million was awarded to Arizona tribes to fund projects for monitoring, water pollution reduction, watershed protection and restoration, water and energy efficiency, wastewater reclamation, and treatment systems. Another $13.6 million will go to the Indian Health Service to support tribal drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, plant operator training and technical assistance.
Arizona tribes will use an additional $4.7 million to implement existing environmental programs, clean up open dumps and contaminated lands, develop programs to monitor, protect and improve air quality, and ensure public awareness of these efforts.
The White Mountain Apache Tribe will conduct a feasibility study to determine if a solid waste transfer station will assist one of their remote communities with waste management and reduce illegal dumping.
The Ak-Chin Indian Community will expand on a Community-Based Social Marketing pilot that began earlier this year. The project will increase recycling in the community through targeted outreach efforts. Similarly, the Navajo Nation will conduct a Greening Tribal Facilities Audit and develop draft guidelines for improving environmental sustainability of tribal facilities.
EPA funds have also supported sewage stabilization on the Tohono O’odham Nation to protect the health of residents using a lagoon treatment facility. Last year’s $323,000 project benefited 303 homes, repaired berm damage, and prevented harmful erosion.
The EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region is home to 148 tribal nations and contains half of all tribal lands nationwide. Indian Country in California, Arizona and Nevada is about equal in size to the six New England states.
For more information, please visit https://www.epa.gov/tribal/region-9-tribal-program