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Clean Water Indian Set-Aside Program

The Clean Water Indian Set-Aside Grant Program (CWISA) provides funding to Indian tribes and Alaska Native Villages for wastewater infrastructure. The CWISA program is administered in cooperation with the Indian Health Service (IHS).

To be considered for CWISA program funding, tribes must identify their wastewater needs to the IHS Sanitation Deficiency System. EPA uses the IHS Sanitation Deficiency System priority lists to identify and select projects for CWISA program funding.


Program Guidance

The following guidance describes EPA’s policies and procedures for administering this program. The guidance incorporates many sustainability concepts already adopted by the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and recommended by the Tribal Infrastructure Task Force:

EPA administers the CWISA program in cooperation with the IHS Division of Sanitation Facilities Construction with their Sanitation Deficiency System (SDS) data system and Guide. EPA regional offices use SDS to identify projects for CWISA program funds and this cooperation streamlines project selection procedures by eliminating duplication of efforts between the two agencies.

EPA also provides funds to drinking water systems for infrastructure improvements through a separate Indian set-aside grants program. Learn more about the Drinking Water Infrastructure Grant Tribal Set-Aside Program.


Funding History

The Clean Water Act authorized CWISA program funding via one-half of one percent (0.5 percent) from the Construction Grants Program appropriations for fiscal years 1987 through 1990. In 1992, Congress gave EPA the authority to take a 0.5 percent set-aside from the Clean Water Act Title VI (Clean Water State Revolving Fund) appropriation following the phase-out of the Construction Grants Program.

Beginning with EPA's FY 2001 Appropriation's Bill, Congress has authorized an increase from 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund's (CWSRF) appropriation for the CWISA set-aside. In FY 2010, Congress authorized an increase from 1.5 percent to 2 percent from the CWSRF for the CWISA set-aside. Since FY 2016, the CWISA appropriation from Congress has been either 2 percent of the CWSRF or $30 million, whichever is greater


Measuring Progress

The EPA tribal wastewater access measure gauges progress in ensuring access to basic sanitation on tribal lands by assessing the number of American Indian and Alaskan Native homes that have been provided or restored access to wastewater infrastructure, in coordination with other federal agencies.

The data source for the measures are the once annual data-freeze snapshots from the Project Data System in the Indian Health Service, Division of Sanitation Facility Construction Sanitation Tracking and Reporting System. Historically EPA reported the measure results through the EPA Strategic Plans, the National Water Program Guidance documents, or the Office of Management and Budget. The CWISA program aims to continue to report on this important measure. This table lists the measure results from 2012 to date. 

Tribal Wastewater Access Measure -- The Number of American Indian and Alaska Native Homes Provided Access to Basic Sanitation, in Coordination with Other Agencies

Fiscal Year Number of Homes, Annual Result Cumulative (based on a 2009 baseline of 43,600 homes with a universe of 360,000 homes)*
2012 6,212 63,087
2013 6,696 69,783
2014 5,357 75,140
2015 9,666 84,806
2016 10,940 95,746
2017 5,318 101,064
2018 6,398 107,462
2019 3,561 111,023

*The cumulative numbers are the values that have been reported publicly in the past and stem from the United Nations' Millennium Development Goal to reduce by half the proportion of people that did not have access to basic sanitation services.

View the EPA tribal drinking water access measure results.


Tribal Infrastructure Task Force

EPA collaborates extensively with other federal agencies to ensure effective and efficient implementation of its tribal programs. An example of this is the Infrastructure Task Force (ITF). The primary focus of the ITF is to improve access to safe drinking water, basic sanitation, and solid waste services in Indian country.

The federal partners participating in the task force include:

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (Rural Development),
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Indian Health Service),
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and
  • U.S. Department of the Interior (Bureau of Indian Affairs).

The agencies accomplish the goals of the ITF by coordinating federal efforts in delivering water infrastructure, wastewater infrastructure, and solid waste management services to tribal communities. This coordination leads to a streamlined approach to agency policies, regulations, and directives. Streamlining reduces the administrative burden for tribal communities and facilitates access to funding.


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