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Wyden And Merkley Press For Better Water For Regional Tribes

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A bill introduced by Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden aims to improve water access and quality for Native American tribes.

The Western Tribal Water Infrastructure Act would authorize the EPA to fund 10 water improvement projects per year for tribes in the Columbia River Basin, and adjacent basins. It’d also increase annual funding for the Indian Reservation Drinking Water program from $20 million to $30 million a year.

“Reservations are in rural areas, lot of the water systems are not in good shape," says Rob Greene, an attorney for the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde. "And there hasn’t been the kind of investment there should have been in making sure that people have safe drinking water, that there’s water for fire support.

"The Indian Health Service said that native people are nine times more likely to lack access to safe water than the rest of the population.”

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has recently held a hearing on the legislation.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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