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EPA announces $5.4 M for environmental improvements on tribal lands in Northern California

Release Date: 10/15/2014
Contact Information: Suzanne Skadowski, 415-972-3165, skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov

California tribes statewide awarded $18.8 M

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $5.4 million in funding to invest in Northern Calif. tribes’ environmental programs, water infrastructure development, community education and capacity building. The announcement was made at the 22nd annual Regional Tribal Conference in Sacramento, Calif.

“The federal government is committed to protecting human health and the environment in Indian Country,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This funding will help conserve precious water resources, create jobs, and improve the quality of life on tribal lands.”

This year Northern Calif. tribes will use about $2.8 million to continue tribal environmental programs, cleanup open dumps, conduct small construction projects, targeted community outreach, drought mitigation and community education – the cornerstone of tribal environmental programs.

The tribes will use the additional $2.6 million for a wide variety of water quality projects including watershed protection and restoration, water and energy efficiency, wastewater reclamation, and treatment systems. The funds also support drinking water infrastructure, plant operator training, and technical assistance.

For example, this year, the Hoopa Valley Tribe, in partnership with the California Indian Health Service, will install a greywater system to serve two homes as part of a wastewater project that also connects the homes to the sewer collection system. The Hoopa Valley Tribe and 15 other Northern Calif. tribes are also engaged in planning to mitigate the effects of severe drought, as part of a collaborative effort with EPA, the Indian Health Service, and other agencies.

These funds are critical in building the capacity of tribes to carry out environmental work. Because most tribes in the Pacific Southwest have small governments, one goal of the funding is to assist tribes in developing their ability to establish environmental protection programs and make informed decisions about issues that impact the health of their people and the quality of their environment. The funds are used to develop environmental and public health ordinances, and coordinate with adjacent jurisdictions.

The EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region is home to 148 tribal nations with half of Indian Country nationwide concentrated in three states; Indian Country in Calif., Ariz. and Nev. is about equal to the area of the six New England states combined.

For more information please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region9/tribal

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