Water is sacred to many tribal nations and is vital to tribal subsistence, cultural practices, health and welfare, agricultural production, and economic development. Legal rights to water resources have been long contested by tribes, states, and localities. Water allocations to tribal lands first originated in the early 1800s through tribal treaty provisions, advancing through tribal water settlements and claims, and now water resources are closely monitored for quality and safety reasons. However, according to the 2007 Indian Health Service Sanitation Deficiency System Summary Report, over 13 percent of tribal homes lack basic access to safe drinking water and sanitation services, compared to less than one percent of homes nationwide.
Similar to other infrastructure needs, water delivery systems have been severely underdeveloped and funded in Indian Country. Funding for these systems has typically benefited states and localities surrounding tribal lands. Water projects on tribal lands that were authorized by Congress have typically been underfunded and go into disrepair due to a lack of technically trained tribal individuals to maintain these systems. Additionally, tribal governments and lands have not been included in the statutory language of the Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act, which provides the Department of Agriculture with the essential planning authority for conservation, protection, and enhancement of soil and water resources. To address disparities in water access for tribal communities, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund both have 1.5 percent tribal set-asides. NCAI, and our partners, have advocated for at least 3 percent set-aside to meet tribal needs related to water infrastructure on tribal lands.
Feb 04, 2015
Testimony & Speeches
NCAI Comments on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) for the Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline
Apr 22, 2013
Protecting Tribal Communities and Culture in Alaska by Requesting the United States Implement the Boundary Waters Treaty through International Joint Commission (IJC) ...
Sep 28, 2015
Jul 01, 2015
Support for the Water Rights Compact between the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the State of Montana, and the United States of America
Jul 01, 2015
NCAI Protests Army Corps Decision to Issue Easement for Dakota Access Pipeline, Urges Changes to Infrastructure Permitting Process
Feb 08, 2017
NCAI Expresses Concern with Presidential Actions to Short-Circuit Environmental Review Process for Dakota Access Pipeline
Jan 24, 2017
Dec 04, 2016