One thing that we all, me included take for granted is the clean water that is provided for us everyday. The most simplistic and abundant thing on our planet besides air molecules and also one that we cannot live without. Back where I live in the southwest suburbs of Chicago we receive fresh, purified Lake Michigan water every moment of every day. Even here in the dorms we receive fresh water every day without even thinking about it. This is our reality. But, this is not everybody’s reality. The Tule River Indian Reservation at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada Mountains are an example where clean water is not an every day resource. However, very recently, steps began to be taken to allow them to gain access to fresh water and eliminate the wastewater from the reservation.
30 percent of the homes on the reservation had failing septic tanks and drain fields. This means that the wastewater had nowhere to go and just stagnated. Not only does this not provide freshwater, but the water that is available is most likely contaminated leading to viruses and sickness. However, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency is now footing the bill in funding the largest funded wastewater infrastructure project involving American Indians. The total cost of the project is $8.1 million dollars: $6.3 million dollars provided by the EPA. This undertaking has been planned for the last year, but only now is action being taken. The reason that action is being taken is so the reservation falls into accordance with the Clean Water Act, now in its 40th year. This Act ensures minimum wastewater standards across the country including reservations. This new system that will be put into place will effect 268 homes on the 55,000 acre reservation hopefully improving everyone’s quality of living. The reason that this is relevant to AIS is because it provides examples of equivalent treatment for everyone nationwide. Maybe it has taken more time, but the fact is, the EPA heard the petitions by the reservation and followed through for equal treatment. The Clean Water Act applies to everyone, not just people who live off of reservations. Also, we can tell that it is a serious undertaking by the amount of money being allotted by the EPA. 5.3 million dollars is not anything to scoff at; it should and will make significant improvements in the water supply/treatment and the lives of the people on the reservation.
Courtesy of : Indian Country Today
Council Chairman Ryan Garfield and Tribal Council