Wyden, Merkley, Colleagues Reintroduce Resolution Reaffirming Importance of Clean Water Access for Tribal Communities

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley said today that they and Senate colleagues have reintroduced a resolution emphasizing the federal government’s responsibility to provide access to clean drinking water for Tribal communities in Oregon and throughout the country.

“Everyone deserves access to clean water – yet today many Tribal communities across the country lack access to this vital natural resource,” Wyden said. “It’s time to reinvest and ramp up water infrastructure development in Oregon and nationwide to fully address inequalities in clean water access.”

“Access to clean water and dependable water infrastructure is crucial to Tribal communities here in Oregon and across the nation,” said Senator Merkley. “Oregon has seen firsthand the water shortages, boil notices, and shutdowns on the Warm Springs Reservation that show the unacceptable damage when Tribal water infrastructure is neglected. This resolution reaffirms the federal government’s responsibility to ensure Tribes in Oregon and beyond have access to clean, safe, and dependable drinking water.”

The lack of access to clean drinking water is a significant barrier for many Native American communities. According to HHS data, Native American households are 19 times more likely than white households to lack indoor plumbing. Lack of access to drinking water hurts health, education, economic development, and other aspects of daily life. 

The resolution calls on the Executive Branch to employ a “whole of government” approach to ensure access to reliable, clean drinking water to households on Federal Indian reservations in Oregon and nationwide.

Alongside Wyden and Merkley, the resolution was led by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii. The resolution was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Jon Tester, D-Mont., Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., Ben Ray, Luján D-N.M., Angus King, I-Maine, Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

The text of the resolution is here.

Last week, as Water and Power ENR Subcommittee Chair, Wyden announced a coordinated Senate effort to tackle America’s drinking water crisis and held a hearing to urge action on the drinking water access emergency—which included testimony from Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Chairman Jonathan W. Smith.

This summer, Wyden reintroduced legislation that would dramatically expand Tribal access to clean water in Oregon and nationwide by investing in water infrastructure.