Native tribes in California will receive more than $25 million in grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fund environmental programs, including water and wastewater infrastructure development, community education and capacity building. The EPA announced the allocations at its Annual Regional Tribal Conference earlier this month.
According to the EPA, most tribes in the Pacific Southwest have small governments, so one goal of the funding is to help them establish environmental protection programs of their own.
"Tribes have made great progress in protecting the environment and improving public health in Indian Country," said Jared Blumenfeld, regional administrator for EPA's Pacific Southwest office. "These grants will help support the significant accomplishments that have been achieved through the collaborative efforts of the California tribes and the federal government."
About $12.5 million of the EPA funding will support water-related projects in California. Approximately $7.3 million will help tribes support water quality projects, such as watershed protection and restoration, water and energy efficiency, water remediation and wastewater treatment systems. Another $5.2 million will go to the California Indian Health Service offices to support tribal drinking and wastewater water infrastructure, plant operator training and technical assistance.
$10.5 million will be allocated for additional environmental programs in tribal California, including:
- Cleaning up open dumps
- Conducting small construction projects
- Performing targeted community outreach
- Climate change adaptation planning
- Community education.
Finally, $2.1 million in EPA funding will support other environmental efforts at tribes in the state, such as developing programs to monitor, protect, and improve air quality, clean up contaminated lands and share and analyze environmental data.
Half of all federally-recognized U.S. tribes are concentrated in California, Nevada and Arizona, which, along with 148 tribal nations, fall under the EPA's Pacific Southwest Region.
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