US Senate Subcommittee to Host Hearing on Safe Water in Tribal Communities

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, chaired by U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), will convene a hearing entitled “Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure in Tribal Communities” on Wednesday, September 20, 2023 at 2:30 p.m. - EDT.

Testimony will be heard from tribal water experts and stakeholders on a range of water-related challenges for tribes in the United States, including a lack of access to infrastructure, deferred maintenance of existing infrastructure, inadequate water quality, a shortage of operations and maintenance funding, emerging contaminants, technical assistance concerns, tribal operator certification issues, and workforce development shortfalls.

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The hearing will examine how these barriers prevent tribes from building or upgrading aging wastewater and drinking water infrastructure systems.

Despite significant federal funding for tribal water and sanitation needs from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, tribes are still more likely than other populations in the United States to lack access to wastewater services and clean drinking water. The Indian Health Service reports that approximately 17 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native homes lack adequate sanitation facilities, and Native American households are 19 times more likely than white households to lack indoor plumbing.

Testimony will be heard from:

Mr. Ken Norton, Chair of the National Tribal Water Council (NTWC) and Director of the Hoopa Valley Tribal Environmental Protection Agency

Mr. Brian Bennon, Tribal Water Systems Department Director, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA)

Jola WallowingBull, Director, Northern Arapaho Tribal Engineering Department

The hearing will be broadcast live here.

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