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EPA Awards $2,178,990 Grant to Navajo Nation

Release Date: 9/26/2002
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, U.S. EPA, 415/947-4248,

     Money to Help Community Organized Projects
     SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a $1.9 million drinking water grant and a $278,990 environmental program development grant to the Navajo Nation.

     The drinking water projects grant will fund feasibility studies, and design and construction of drinking water wells for 23 Navajo communities.  The wells will  provide additional sources of water and help protect water supplies from arsenic and other pollutants.  

     The $278,990 grant will help further develop the Navajo Nation's environmental program. A portion of this grant, $71,000, will help 20 Navajo communities address small pockets of illegal dump sites.  Currently, there are over 400 open dumps on the Navajo Nation.

     "Funding for tribal programs is a high priority for the EPA.  We have a responsibility to help tribes protect their resources and provide basic services like water and sewer to their members," said Wayne Nastri, the EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest.  "We need to do more and today's actions are an important step in helping many Navajo communities enjoy a safe water supply and a landscape that is clear of litter."  

     Nastri announced the grants during a tour of the Navajo Reservation in the Four-corners area.  The trip was part of a week-long tour by the regional administrator to witness first-hand the environmental problems faced by some of the largest tribes in the United States.    

     "The Navajo EPA will be able to aggressively pursue drinking water issues to ensure that safe drinking water is available for all our Navajo communities," said Navajo Nation President Kelsey A. Begaye.  "In addition, it is apparent that with technical guidance from Navajo EPA that our communities can organize and initiate projects to promote a clean and healthy environment."

     The Navajo Nation estimates that 40 percent of all tribal members lack running water, compared with less than half of one percent of the U.S. population as a whole.  Nationwide, 7 percent of all tribal families lack running water, and over 1,100 open dumps are found on U.S. reservations.  

     Today's actions are part of a larger EPA effort over the past several years to help tribes throughout the arid Southwest protect their land, air and water from environmental degradation.

     EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman has asked Congress to increase funding for tribal environmental programs by $5 million in the upcoming fiscal year.  Those funds could be used to develop environmental programs and to fund open dump clean-up projects.