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Hickenlooper, Bennet Welcome Funding From Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to Improve Colorado Tribal Water and Sanitation Systems

Jun 3, 2022

Indian health service will fund seven critical Colorado projects for Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute Tribes this year to improve water infrastructure on Tribal lands

Washington D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet welcomed funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) for the Indian Health Service’s Sanitation Facilities Construction Program (SFCP) to fund seven critical projects for the Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute Tribes this year. The Tribal water provisions in the BIL largely mirror the Tribal Access to Clean Water Act introduced by Hickenlooper, Bennet, and U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Elizabeth Warren.

Everyone deserves access to clean water, but too many Tribal communities still lack it,” said Hickenlooper. “This funding from our Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill will help the Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute Tribes improve their water infrastructure and ensure every family can drink clean water.”

This critical funding for the Indian Health Service will help ensure access to clean water and sanitation for hundreds of families across the Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute Tribes,” said Bennet. “This is a major step forward to fulfill our government’s obligation to Tribal communities.”

The SFPC provides technical and financial assistance to American Indian and Alaska Native communities for cooperative development and construction of safe drinking water, wastewater, and solid waste systems and related support facilities. This funding will provide 71,000 American Indian and Alaska Native homes with critical services like water wells and onsite wastewater disposal systems and connections to community water supply and wastewater disposal systems. Improvements to sanitation facilities can reduce inpatient and outpatient visits related to respiratory, skin and soft tissue, and gastroenteric disease. Every $1 spent on water and sewer infrastructure can save $1.23 in avoided direct health care costs.

The BIL provides $3.5 billion for the Indian Health Service (IHS) Sanitation Facilities Construction program over five years, which is consistent with the $3.4 billion provided to IHS in the Tribal Access to Clean Water Act to address needs for Tribal sanitation facilities and services. Also in line with the Tribal Access to Clean Water Act, the BIL increases funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act State Revolving Funds (SRF). The BIL also provides $1 billion in funding in line with the senators’ legislation for the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to support legacy rural water supply projects, which will benefit Tribes.

Hickenlooper and Bennet continue to push for other provisions in the Tribal Access to Clean Water Act: 

  • Providing funding to assist Tribes with operation and maintenance needs for water infrastructure through the Indian Health Service
  • Increasing funding for Native communities through USDA Rural Development, by providing $500 million for the Community Facilities Grant and Loan Program for Native communities, and ensuring that Native communities are eligible and treated equitably when considered for grants and loans
  • Improving funding for Tribal water projects by providing another $1 billion for a competitive grant program within the Bureau of Reclamation’s Rural Water Supply authority for new Tribal clean water access projects

For a breakdown of projects funded through SFCP, visit the IHS Division of Sanitation Facilities Construction website HERE


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