WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA), and John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), today highlighted several key provisions for Indian Country included in America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 2800).
“America’s Water Infrastructure Act will help facilitate critical water resources development projects in Indian Country, including improving aging irrigation systems, enhancing dam safety and flood protections, and helping ensure access to clean drinking water,” said Hoeven. “These bipartisan measures reflect the close collaboration between the Indian Affairs and EPW Committees, as well as our shared commitment to advancing priorities for tribal communities.”
“On the Wind River Reservation, many ranchers and farmers depend on the Bureau of Indian Affairs to deliver their water and to maintain the dams which protect the community,” said Barrasso. “The same is true for tribes across the country. America’s Water Infrastructure Act will hold Washington accountable to preserve these systems. The bipartisan legislation will also help provide clean drinking water to Native communities. America’s Water Infrastructure Act will cut Washington red tape, grow the nation’s economy, create jobs, and help keep the public safe. This bill is a boost for tribal communities in Wyoming and across Indian Country.”
Specifically, the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 would:
Reauthorize and increase funding for the Tribal Partnership Program, which facilitates the design and construction of a water resources development project that will substantially benefit Indian tribes and is located primarily within Indian Country.
Reauthorize the Indian Irrigation Fund and extend resources to help repair, replace and maintain aging tribal irrigation projects through 2028.
Reauthorize key funding to address Indian dam safety and maintenance through 2030.
Establish a pilot program for drinking water systems and wastewater in Indian Country.
Provide clarification to the Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement, which will enable the Tribe to complete water-related infrastructure projects on their lands.
Require the Secretary of the Interior to evaluate the impact of the construction of the Bonneville, John Day and Dalles dams on Indian tribes in Oregon.
Require an assessment and report of flooding and erosion threats to Alaska Native villages.
The legislation was recently unanimously reported favorably by the EPW Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Senate.