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Tribal Public Water System Report

Public Water Systems in Indian Country

EPA works with tribal governments and/or tribal utilities to help their public water systems (PWS) comply with Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to improve access to safe drinking water.  EPA can authorize federally recognized tribes (tribes) to implement the SDWA program (known as “primacy”) and enforce national standards within their jurisdiction. To date, only the Navajo Nation has applied for and received primacy.  EPA, therefore, directly implements the SDWA for almost all PWS in Indian country.  EPA devotes considerable financial and staff resources to improve compliance in Indian country, as discussed in more detail below.

Violations and Enforcement Actions

Information on PWS in Indian country with reported violations during the fiscal year can be found at Drinking Water Dashboard by selecting the specific tribe under the dropdown menu for “Tribes.” With the Drinking Water Dashboard one is able to select from over 200 tribes where systems are located.

Information on all PWS (tribal and non-tribal) with reported violations during the year can be found by selecting “National” under the dropdown menu for “States.” In the past the percentage of systems with reported violations in Indian country and territories has been higher than the percentage of all systems (tribal and non-tribal) with reported violations. The current status of this difference can be determined by using the Drinking Water Dashboard.

EPA Financial Assistance for Public Water Systems in Indian Country

EPA provides financial assistance to federally recognized Indian tribes for planning and construction expenditures at community or non-profit non-community PWS that serve tribes. Information on the financial assistance provided by EPA to tribal systems is available on EPA’s web site for Tribal Drinking Water Program Fund Allotments

Each fiscal year, EPA allocates two percent of the appropriation for the national Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. These funds were used for the following:

  • Distribution and transmission system improvements.
  • Storage facilities.
  • Treatment improvements.

Each fiscal year EPA also sets aside funds for activities in Indian country. These funds were used for activities such as:

  • Providing technical assistance to owners and operators of water systems.
  • Maintaining compliance data systems.
  • Compiling and analyzing compliance information.
  • Responding to violations.
  • Conducting sanitary surveys.