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Stansbury Requests Aid For Tribal Water Projects

New Mexico Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury
Kevin Meerschaert
Via Zoom
New Mexico Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury

A bill currently being debated in Congressional hearings would help Native tribes with the cost of implementing water and drought projects.

The Water SMART Access For Tribes Act would give the U.S. Secretary of the Interior the authority to waive or reduce cost-share requirements for Tribes projects under the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART program.

The bill was introduced by New Mexico Congresswomen Melanie Stansbury.

She says for any tribal and indiginous communities access to clean water is very difficult and is becoming worse due to COVID and the drought.

“In fact across the Navajo Nation it is estimated that 30 to 40-percent of Dine’ homes do not have access to running water,” she said. “Within my own district the To’Hajillee Chapter has lived for years without safe drinking water having to haul water from miles away for use in homes, public buildings, and even the local senior center.”  

Navajo Nation President Johnathan Nez told the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife that Native-American households are nineteen times more likely than white households to lack access to clean drinking water.   

 To date, fewer than five percent of the projects funded under WaterSMART since its inception have been led by Tribes or Pueblos.       

Kevin Meerschaert comes to Santa Fe from Jacksonville, Florida where he spent the past 20 years covering politics, government and pretty much everything else.