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EPA Announces $27 Million to Improve Tribal Lands in California

Contact Information: 
Nahal Mogharabi (

LOS ANGELES—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced more than $27 million in funding to 83 California tribes to invest in environmental programs and water infrastructure. EPA made the announcement at its Pacific Southwest Region’s 25th Annual Tribal Conference held at the Viejas Casino and Resort in Alpine, Calif., and hosted by the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians.

“This funding will help tribes provide safe drinking water to their communities and support environmental programs,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “These vital grants have a significant impact on the environment and quality of life in Indian Country.”

Over $8 million was awarded to California tribes to fund projects for monitoring, water pollution reduction, watershed protection and restoration, water and energy efficiency, wastewater reclamation, and treatment systems. Another $3.9 million will go to the Indian Health Service to support tribal drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, plant operator training and technical assistance.

California tribes will use an additional $15.4 million to implement existing environmental programs, clean up open dumps and contaminated lands, develop programs to monitor, protect and improve air quality, and ensure public awareness of these efforts.

Examples of specific projects implemented with EPA’s grants include:

The Yurok Tribe will reduce the impacts of solid and hazardous wastes by closing four legacy dumps, conducting an electronic waste roundup and disposal event, developing an educational campaign aimed at improving waste management at cultural events, working with Del Norte County to determine the feasibility of initiating a composting program, and cleaning up debris along the banks of the Klamath River.

The Big Pine Paiute Tribe is developing an inventory of hazardous materials, including using available GIS maps of tribal government offices and tribal homes to map the locations of hazardous substances. Once the tribe identifies the specific materials and locations, it will conduct targeted outreach on proper handling and disposal to ensure protection of tribal communities.

The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians will develop a community notification system for hazardous air quality, including particulates, ozone and wildfire smoke.

The Tuolumne Band of Mi-Wok Indians used prior EPA funding to install a community sewer system for 84 homes, thus removing them from septic systems in rocky soil with shallow groundwater that was exposing children to raw sewage.  The tribe funded the new sewer collection system and tied into a local sanitary district to better protect the health of tribal families.  

The EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region is home to 148 tribal nations and contains half of all tribal lands nationwide. Indian Country in California, Arizona and Nevada is about equal in size to the six New England states. 

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