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Project funded by Clean Water Indian Set-Aside program and Indian Health Service
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined the Indian Health Service at a groundbreaking ceremony on the Tule River Reservation for the largest funded stimulus tribal wastewater infrastructure project in the nation. EPA is contributing $6.3 million to the project through the Clean Water Indian Set-Aside program and the Indian Health Service is providing an additional $1.8 million.
The Tule River Indian Reservation does not have adequate wastewater service for its residents. A 2007 Tule River wastewater feasibility study by the Indian Health Service concluded that 30% of all septic tank/drainfield systems failed and an additional 30% are expected to fail. This failure rate exceeds EPA’s reported national average of 10% to 20%. As a result, health risks from surface effluent and poor wastewater service are now major issues for the tribe.
Upon completion in 2012, the new system will serve 268 homes, provide 6.9 miles of collection system pipeline and establish 371 residential connections. The project also will provide for a wastewater treatment facility that will treat an average daily flow of 0.1 million gal per day (mgd), 1 mgd in effluent storage pond capacity and a 7.5-acre leachfield for effluent disposal.
The Clean Water Indian Set-Aside program provides funding for the planning, design and construction of wastewater infrastructure for Indian tribes and Alaska native villages in either an interagency agreement or a direct grant. Annually, 1.5% to 2% of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund is “set aside” for tribal wastewater infrastructure, which has averaged $4 million each year since the program’s inception in 1987.
The Tule River reservation was established in 1873 and currently owns more than 55,400 acres. The tribe has a current population of 1,623 members, with 876 living on the reservation in 285 homes.