6. CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION

Padilla Leads Hearing on Improving Access to Clean Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure in Tribal Communities – Senator Alex Padilla

Padilla Leads Hearing on Improving Access to Clean Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure in Tribal Communities – Senator Alex Padilla
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Padilla Leads Hearing on Improving Access to Clean Drinking Water …  Senator Alex Padilla

Padilla Leads Hearing on Improving Access to Clean Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure in Tribal Communities – Senator Alex Padilla

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Chair of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, convened a hearing entitled “Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure in Tribal Communities.”

The hearing examined a range of water-related challenges for tribes in the United States, including a lack of access to infrastructure, poor water quality, a shortage of operations and maintenance funding, emerging contaminants, technical assistance concerns, Tribal operator certification issues, and workforce development shortfalls. During the hearing, Padilla questioned Ken Norton, Chair of the National Tribal Water Council (NTWC) and Director of the Hoopa Valley Tribal Environmental Protection Agency; Brian Bennon, Tribal Water Systems Department Director, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA); and Jola Wallowingbull, Director, Northern Arapaho Tribal Engineering Department on how these barriers prevent tribes from building or upgrading aging wastewater and drinking water infrastructure systems.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Emphasized:

  • Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Padilla’s Opening Remarks

Padilla began his remarks by underscoring the harmful impacts inadequate water supply and deteriorating pipes can have on the public health, education, and economic development of Tribal communities. He advocated for a whole-of-government approach toward securing Tribal access to water, noting that some tribes only have one person dedicated to transportation, energy, and water services, and they lack the tax base to confront these water infrastructure issues. Padilla highlighted the challenges faced by tribes like the Tule River Tribe, whose members were forced onto a reservation without the irrigation and water storage facilities that the federal government promised and now have to haul in water by truck.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Emphasized:

  • Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being
  • Goal 4: Quality Education
  • Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Tribal Water Challenges

Despite significant federal funding for tribal water and sanitation needs from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, tribes are still more likely than other populations in the United States to lack access to wastewater services and clean drinking water. Padilla emphasized that Native American households are 19 times more likely than white households to lack indoor plumbing. To address this crisis, Padilla called for sustained federal investment in operations and maintenance funding for water infrastructure, improved technical assistance opportunities, increased workforce development opportunities, and a permanent water rate assistance program.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Emphasized:

  • Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Witness Testimonies

Padilla questioned the witnesses on various water-related issues. Ken Norton discussed the remaining difficulties for Tribal water systems despite the $4 billion in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for Tribal sanitation over the next five years. Norton highlighted that without significant operations and maintenance dollars, violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act would continue to increase, emphasizing that the federal Indian trust responsibility to tribes is failing with regard to safe access to drinking water in Tribal communities.

Brian Bennon, Ken Norton, and Jola Wallowingbull emphasized that Tribal operators face a high barrier to entry and are frequently stretched too thin with a wide range of responsibilities, contributing to high violation rates, leading to high operator turnover, and forcing tribes to pay three or four times the cost for external consultants as replacements.

Padilla also questioned the witnesses on water affordability challenges. When asked about the importance of a permanent water rate assistance program like the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), Brian Bennon stressed the importance of pairing LIHWAP with an additional funding mechanism to examine technical community and utility needs. Jola Wallowingbull and Ken Norton also pushed for continuous, permanent LIHWAP funding.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Emphasized:

  • Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Senator Padilla’s Commitment

Senator Padilla has consistently pushed to protect and improve access to clean, affordable drinking water, including in tribal communities. He introduced the Tule River Tribe Reserved Water Rights Settlement Act to formally recognize the tribe’s reserved water rights. The bill advanced unanimously through the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in March. Padilla is also a cosponsor of the Tribal Access to Clean Water Act of 2023, legislation that would dramatically expand Tribal access to clean water by investing in water infrastructure.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Emphasized:

  • Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals

More information about the hearing is available here.

A transcript of Padilla’s opening remarks, as delivered, is available below:

Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you all for joining us today for our second hearing this Congress of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife. Not only are we set to discuss drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in Tribal communities, here in EPW, but I’m happy to share that as we speak, Subcommittee Chairman Wyden of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee is also holding a hearing on water access in underserved communities. And next week, Chairman Schatz will join us by holding a hearing of the Indian Affairs Committee on related issues as well. So there’s

SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

1. Which SDGs are addressed or connected to the issues highlighted in the article?

  • SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

2. What specific targets under those SDGs can be identified based on the article’s content?

  • SDG 6.1: By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.
  • SDG 6.2: By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.
  • SDG 10.2: By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic, and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion, or economic or other status.

3. Are there any indicators mentioned or implied in the article that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets?

  • Indicator 6.1.1: Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services.
  • Indicator 6.2.1: Proportion of population using safely managed sanitation services, including a handwashing facility with soap and water.
  • Indicator 10.2.1: Proportion of people living below 50 percent of median income, disaggregated by sex, age, employment status, and geographical location.

Table: SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

SDGs Targets Indicators
SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation 6.1: By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. 6.1.1: Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services.
SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation 6.2: By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations. 6.2.1: Proportion of population using safely managed sanitation services, including a handwashing facility with soap and water.
SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities 10.2: By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic, and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion, or economic or other status. 10.2.1: Proportion of people living below 50 percent of median income, disaggregated by sex, age, employment status, and geographical location.

Behold! This splendid article springs forth from the wellspring of knowledge, shaped by a wondrous proprietary AI technology that delved into a vast ocean of data, illuminating the path towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Remember that all rights are reserved by SDG Investors LLC, empowering us to champion progress together.

Source: padilla.senate.gov

 

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