Federal money will full fund Warm Springs water treatment plant

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Indian
Health Service will provide $23 million to full fund a new water treatment
plant at the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.

The agencies announced the formal agreement in a news
release Tuesday, Dec. 20..

IHS obligated $13,601,000 toward the project and EPA
provided $10,262,000. Nearly all the funding is the result of the Bipartisan
Infrastructure Law.

“The Interagency Agreement between EPA and IHS fully
funds a new, modern plant that will ensure access to clean and safe drinking
water for the 3,800 people in the Warm Springs community,” said EPA Region
10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller. “This is the largest tribal water system
award in Region 10 and we’re proud to be a part of such a historic investment
in our community.”

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs’ leadership
prioritized work with EPA, IHS, and other federal and state agencies over
several years to plan the project. The Warm Springs Public Water System
currently operates an aging water treatment plant that was temporarily shut
down earlier this year due to a fire.

“I am grateful that our senators, EPA and IHS have all
stepped up to tackle the water quality challenge at Warm Springs,” said
Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation Tribal Council Chairman
Jonathan Smith. “This is an historic investment that will be deeply
appreciated by Warm Springs people for decades to come.”

“The IHS is very happy and proud to have been able to
work with the CTWS, EPA, and other partners in order to secure funding that
will provide the Tribal community members of the Warm Springs Reservation with
a long-term and reliable source of safe, clean drinking water.” said IHS
Area Director, CAPT Marcus Martinez.

The new plant will treat water from the Deschutes River
using up-to-date technologies and ensure consistent high quality drinking water
standards. The design phase is expected to begin in 2023.

“Access to safe and dependable drinking water and
sanitation is essential. The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs are in
critical need of a new water treatment plant for residents’ health and safety,”
said Senator Jeff Merkley. “I saw first-hand the state of the existing
water treatment facility when I toured it with senior administration and tribal
officials, and I am pleased to see the EPA join IHS to fund a new, modern
treatment plant. Ensuring a reliable supply of clean drinking water is
important to meeting our trust obligation to the Warm Springs and to protecting
the health of the community.”

“Water is a human right, and investment in this human
right for Tribal communities like the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs has
been neglected by the federal government for far too long,” said Senator
Ron Wyden. “These much-needed resources for a water treatment plant will
help to reverse this shameful injustice for the Warm Springs, and I’ll keep battling
until this community can count on a dependable and safe water supply.”

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law presents the largest-ever
funding opportunity for investing in water infrastructure. EPA is committed to
a productive partnership with tribal governments and other federal agencies to
maximize the impact of these funds in addressing water challenges.