$3.6M approved for Warm Springs Reservation water fixes
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — As the Warm Springs Reservation goes without safe drinking water into the fourth week, Oregon state lawmakers have approved millions in emergency funding for repairs.
The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs issued a boil water notice June 25 after drinking water system failures left some residents with no running water at all, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
The reservation has issued more than a dozen such notices in the last year alone. Oregon's emergency board on Tuesday unanimously approved nearly $3.6 million from state reserves to start addressing the issue.
The aid request originated with Rep. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles, whose district encompasses the reservation.
"Today's action by the Legislature's Emergency Board doesn't magically fix the water crisis within the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, but that shouldn't diminish the important work of today," Bonham said in a statement.
Last year, he successfully pushed to earmark $7.8 million in state lottery bonds for reservation water projects. Last week, the promise of that money disappeared, the Bend Bulletin reported.
The next day, Warm Springs' utility manager Travis Wells sent Bonham a list of critical projects needed to ensure clean water and to bring the reservation into compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
Orders from the Environmental Protection Agency have threatened the tribes with costly fines since October.
Thousands of public records obtained by Oregon Public Broadcasting since 2018 show that tribal, state and federal officials have been aware for years of the risks failing water systems pose to human and environmental health in Warm Springs.