Tribal Infrastructure Memoranda of Understanding
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Five federal agencies have signed two important tribal infrastructure Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs). Signatories to the MOUs are EPA, Department of the Interior (DOI), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The federal departments committed themselves to working across traditional program boundaries to improve infrastructure on tribal lands and to focus efforts on providing access to safe drinking water and basic wastewater facilities to tribes. The federal partners came together to promote coordination across the federal programs.
The first MOU promotes coordination between federal tribal infrastructure programs and financial services and replaces a 1996 agreement between DOI, DHHS, and HUD, (PDF) (5 pp, 324K). These programs will now come together to work in partnership under the MOU while retaining their unique advantages. It is fully expected that the efficiencies and partnerships resulting from this collaboration will directly assist tribes with their infrastructure needs. The first MOU also creates the opportunity to establish additional MOUs amongst the parties to address specific tribal infrastructure issues.
This issue arose from the US ratified 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development Plan of Implementation which sought to reduce the 1.2 billion people around the world without access to safe drinking water and basic wastewater facilities. While less than 1% of the US population lacks basic access to these services, analysis by EPA’s American Indian Environmental Office found the tribal population lacking access to both safe drinking water and wastewater to be much higher - approximately 7%.
EPA has also adopted EPA Strategic Plan measures to address the lack of tribal access.