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EPA Grants to Drought-Stricken Southwest Tribes Total $43 Million

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With 44 California tribes set to run out of water within the next six months, much of the recent spate of annual funding for tribes within Region 9 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is earmarked for water-supply projects.

As its 22nd Region 9 conference got under way in mid-October, the EPA announced a total of $18.8 million for California tribes, including $5.8 million for those in Southern California, $7.8 million for central California and $5.4 million in Northern California, according to press releases from the agency. Most of that will go toward water-supply assistance, the news site Climate Progress reported.

RELATED: Nevada and Southern California Tribes Net $10.4 Million in Grants From EPA

In addition, tribes in Arizona are receiving $19.5 million. Among the projects being funded with those monies are a community education video on appropriate solid waste management that’s being developed by the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona. In addition the Gila River Indian Community will clean up five illegal dumpsites on tribal lands and install educational and deterrent signage at areas frequently abused by dumpers, the EPA said in its statement.

As with the other tribal recipients, much of Arizona’s tribal EPA funds—$16.8 million in total—will be put toward “a wide variety of water quality projects, including watershed protection and restoration, water and energy efficiency, wastewater reclamation, and treatment systems,” the EPA said. “The funds also support drinking water infrastructure, plant operator training, and technical assistance.?”

The money is routine annual funding that gets divvied up among 148 tribes whose territories comprise half the land in Indian country, the Associated Press noted. EPA regional administrator Jared Blumenfeld told the AP that American Indian communities throughout California are having a tougher struggle than those in other Western states.

The annual conference was held from October 15-17 in Sacramento.