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Tribal Portal turtle logoInfrastructure Task Force to Improve Access to Safe Drinking Water and Basic Sanitation in Indian country

Ribbon cutting ceremony  for an ARRA funded wastewater treatment plant expansion project for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians , December 2009.
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Construction of a wastewater lift station, sewer line and & force main for the Alaskan Native Village of Buckland , September 2009.
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New drinking water storage tank to address water quality and quantity issues for the Hopi Tribe, 2009.
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In 2000 the United States made commitments at the World Summit on Sustainable Development and agreed to support a United Nations Millennium Development Goal to improve access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation around the world. As a result of this commitment, the US is addressing the lack of access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation in Indian Country by reducing the number of tribal homes without access.

An Infrastructure Task Force (“Task Force”) to improve access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation in Indian country was formed in 2003. The federal partners of the Task Force are the US Department of Agriculture (Rural Development - USDA-RD), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US Department of Health and Human Services through the Indian Health Service, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the US Department of the Interior (Bureau of Indian Affairs - BIA). The Task Force came into effect on June 2007 following the signature by the Department Secretaries of two Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) to develop strategies to help achieve the access goal.

All federal partners renewed their commitment to the Task Force in 2013 through signing an MOU to continue federal coordination in delivering water infrastructure, wastewater infrastructure and solid waste management services to tribal communities. The Task Force will build on prior partner successes, including improved access to funding and reduced administrative burden for tribal communities through the review and streamlining of agency policies, regulations, and directives as well as improved coordination of technical assistance to water service providers and solid waste managers through regular coordination meetings and web-based tools.

The lack of access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation in Indian Country continues to threaten the public health of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities. According to 2010 data from the Indian Health Service (IHS), approximately 12% of AI/AN homes do not have safe water and/or basic sanitation facilities.

The following documents have been developed to document ITF past accomplishments, current activities, and proposed strategies to address access to water and sanitation services on AI/AN lands.

  1. Background: Goals, Purpose and Current Membership

  2. Fact Sheets & Final Reports

  3. Workgroup Documents & Reports

  4. Partner Agency Infrastructure Program Guidelines

  5. Meeting Summaries

  6. Federal Partner Represenatives

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

I. Background: Goals, Purpose and Current Membership

  1. Memorandum of Understanding (2013) (PDF) (6 pp, 1.3 MB)
    This document establishes the purpose, common goals, authority and responsibilities of the interagency partnership. (Note: this MOU supersedes the 2007 ITF MOUs that are available upon request.)
  2. Members Bios (June 2012) (PDF) (18 pp, 461 K)
    This document includes the names and professional biographical information on the tribal and federal staff participants of the Infrastructure Task Force.

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II. Fact Sheets & Final Reports

  1. Accomplishments and Current Activities (March 2013) (PDF) (2 pp, 1.1 MB)
    This fact sheet summarizes the work completed by the Infrastructure Task Force from 2010 to 2012.
  2. Preliminary Engineering Report (January 2013) (PDF) (18 pp, 364 K)
    This document contains the recommended format for preliminary engineering reports for use when planning drinking water, wastewater and solid waste infrastructure.
  3. Sustainable Infrastructure Goals and Concepts Document (November 2011) (PDF) (4 pp, 113 K)
    This document outlines the concepts of appropriate infrastructure and sustainable management entities to guide the coordinated federal efforts to achieve greater sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
  4. Progress to Date: Meeting the Access Goal (December 2010) (PDF) (13 pp, 207 K)
    This document summarizes the progress made on increasing access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by the Infrastructure Task Force from 2003 to 2010.
  5. Response to Access Subgroup Report (October 2009) (PDF) (8 pp, 1.7 MB)
    This document includes responses to the recommendations of the Access Subgroup and establishes workgroups to address distinct areas to increase access to safe drinking and basics sanitation.
  6. Meeting the Access Goal: Strategies for Increasing Access to Safe Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment to American Indian and Alaska Native Villages (March 2008) (PDF) (49 pp, 7.86 MB)
    This document describes the key barriers to improving access to safe drinking water and wastewater disposal in Indian country and offers recommendations on how to reduce these barriers to increase access.
  7. Tribal Water Resource Directory
    This is a catalog of over thirty federal and non-federal programs that offer funding and technical support for tribal drinking water and wastewater systems.
  8. Homeowner's Guide to Septic Systems for Tribal Communities (PDF) (9 pp, 2.1 MB)
    In cooperation with the Indian Health Service (IHS), EPA has developed a tailored version of the original SepticSmart Homeowner's Guide to reflect the unique factors of Tribal communities and homeowners on Tribal lands, regarding the proper care of their systems.

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III. Workgroup Documents & Reports

  1. Summary of Commonalities and Best Practices from Tribal Utilities (January 2012) (PDF) (2 pp, 1.1 MB)
    This document summarizes best practices for ensuring sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation from 5 tribes and 1 tribal utility collaborative.
  2. Application Processes and Recommended Paperwork Streamlining Opportunities (February 2011) (PDF) (52 pp, 143 K)
    This document presents recommendations for streamlining the application funding process for tribes when applying for infrastructure funding.
  3. National Environmental Policy Act Requirements (February 2011) (PDF) (38 pp, 575 K)
    This document summarizes in a matrix format the federal regulations requirements and guidance for complying with the National Environmental Policy Act for the Infrastructure Task Force federal partner agencies.
  4. Map of Water Infrastructure and Homes Without Access to Safe Drinking Water and Basic Sanitation on the Navajo Nation (October 2010) (PDF) (31 pp, 7 MB)
    This document presents the results of completed work using existing geographic information system (GIS) data to map existing water and sewer infrastructure and homes without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation on the Navajo Nation.
  5. Strategies for Improving Technical Assistance Delivery in American Indian and Alaska Native Village Communities (March 2010) (PDF) (20 pp, 208 K) This document lays out a recommended approach for coordination of technical assistance delivery in Indian country.
  6. Tribal Solid Waste Management Opportunity (September 2014) (PDF) (7 pp, 255 K)
    This provides details on an opportunity to join the ITF Waste Programs Sub-Workgroup to share your insights on approaches for engaging tribal communities on waste issues, promoting the development and use of integrated waste management plans and addressing open dumps.

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IV. Partner Agency Infrastructure Program Guidelines

  1. US Environmental Protection Agency
    1. Drinking Water Infrastructure Grant Tribal Set Aside Program (December 2013) (PDF) (115 pp, 3 MB)
    2. EPA Clean Water Indian Set Aside Program (Sept 2013)
      (Document is pending final review and approval. The current version is available at www.epa.gov/cwisa).
  1. Indian Health Service
    1. Sanitation Deficiency System Guide for Reporting Sanitation Deficiencies for Indian Homes and Communities (May 2003). Exit Disclaimer
    2. Criteria for the Sanitation Facilities Construction Program (June 1999). Exit Disclaimer
  1. US Department of Agriculture
    1. USDA Rural Development Native American Tribes. Exit Disclaimer
  2. US Department of Housing and Urban Development
    1. HUD Office of Native American Programs (ONAP). Exit Disclaimer
  3. US Department of Interior
    1. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Exit Disclaimer

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V. Meeting Summaries

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For more information please contact one of the Federal partner representatives or assignees:


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