Here’s How our Infrastructure Plan Helps Protect Safe Drinking Water on Tribal Lands
Rep. Markwayne Mullin (OK-02)
Real Solutions, Real Infrastructure
Bill: The Drinking Water Funding for the Future Act of 2021
When you think of infrastructure, you probably think about roads, bridges, and waterways. But our nation’s drinking water systems are a vital part of American infrastructure.
Clean water is often something we take for granted, but we cannot live without it. Our Tribes are good neighbors and can be great partners for communities when it comes to investing in drinking water systems to ensure they do not fall into disrepair.
The drinking water state revolving fund (DWSRF) helps communities get the funding to improve their water systems. For example, in 2019, Cherokee Nation partnered with the Delaware County Regional Water Authority and state and federal programs to build a $16 million water treatment plant that serves 2,500 homes. If there weren’t funds available to them from the DWSRF, this project might not have happened.
Tribes and other underserved communities cannot be left behind. This legislation will help Tribes across the country by extending funding for the drinking water state revolving fund program, which specifically sets aside funding for Tribes.
Under the DWSRF, 1.5 percent of all funding ($28.5 million) is reserved for Tribal projects, plus 10 percent of any unused funding returned to EPA is also then reallocated to the Tribes. It would authorize $25 million annually for voluntary testing of lead in drinking water in schools and day care centers, as well as $60 million annually for broader lead service line replacement programs, both of which can be accessed by Tribal communities. Further, the bill authorizes $60 million annually for economically disadvantaged and underserved communities, including Tribal communities, with several water system needs.
Safe drinking water is infrastructure. It’s vital we invest in our drinking water systems in Indian Country and across our nation.
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