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Two federal agencies agree to fund $23 million new Warm Springs water treatment plant

Organizations such as the Central Oregon Black Leadership Assembly have brought water to Warm Springs amid outages, boil-water notices
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Organizations such as the Central Oregon Black Leadership Assembly have brought water to Warm Springs amid outages, boil-water notices

Design to begin in 2023, with goal of ending years of water woes on reservation

WARM SPRINGS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Indian Health Service announced Tuesday completion of a formal agreement that provides more than $23 million to build a new water treatment plant on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.  

IHS obligated $13,601,000 toward the project and EPA provided $10,262,000, the two agencies said in a joint announcement. Nearly all the funding is the result of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“The Interagency Agreement between EPA and IHS fully funds a new, modern plant that will ensure access to clean and safe drinking water for the 3,800 people in the Warm Springs community,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller. “This is the largest tribal water system award in Region 10, and we’re proud to be a part of such a historic investment in our community.”

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs’ leadership prioritized work with EPA, IHS, and other federal and state agencies over several years to plan the project. The Warm Springs Public Water System currently operates an aging water treatment plant that was temporarily shut down earlier this year due to a fire. Recent years have seen a variety of water woes that led to outages and boil-water notices on the reservation

“I am grateful that our senators, EPA and IHS have all stepped up to tackle the water quality challenge at Warm Springs.” said Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation Tribal Council Chairman Jonathan Smith. “This is an historic investment that will be deeply appreciated by Warm Springs people for decades to come."

“The IHS is very happy and proud to have been able to work with the CTWS, EPA, and other partners in order to secure funding that will provide the Tribal community members of the Warm Springs Reservation with a long-term and reliable source of safe, clean drinking water.” said IHS Area Director, CAPT Marcus Martinez.

The new plant will treat water from the Deschutes River using up-to-date technologies and ensure consistent high quality drinking water standards. The design phase is expected to begin in 2023.

“Access to safe and dependable drinking water and sanitation is essential. The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs are in critical need of a new water treatment plant for residents’ health and safety,” said Senator Jeff Merkley. “I saw first-hand the state of the existing water treatment facility when I toured it with senior administration and tribal officials, and I am pleased to see the EPA join IHS to fund a new, modern treatment plant. Ensuring a reliable supply of clean drinking water is important to meeting our trust obligation to the Warm Springs and to protecting the health of the community.”

 “Water is a human right, and investment in this human right for Tribal communities like the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs has been neglected by the federal government for far too long,” said Senator Ron Wyden. “These much-needed resources for a water treatment plant will help to reverse this shameful injustice for the Warm Springs, and I’ll keep battling until this community can count on a dependable and safe water supply.”

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law presents the largest-ever funding opportunity for investing in water infrastructure. EPA is committed to a productive partnership with tribal governments and other federal agencies to maximize the impact of these funds in addressing water challenges. Find out more about programs that help communities manage their water resource on EPA’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law page.

Article Topic Follows: Warm Springs

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