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Contact EPA Pacific Southwest Water Division

Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Tribal Water Protection

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Tribal Safe Drinking Water

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Drinking Water Capacity Clearinghouse

New Funding Program for Tribal Drinking Water Systems

In 2006, the EPA and the InterTribal Council of Arizona developed a new funding program to help build capacity for Region 9 tribal drinking water systems. The new program – the Drinking Water Capacity Clearinghouse – offers reimbursement to tribes for any costs associated with small-scale, capacity-building activities related to drinking water system management and operations.

Eligible costs include training and activities that build tribal capacity in the technical, managerial and financial components of running a public water system.

Examples of eligible activities
  • Semester course at a local community college to help a plant operator maintain current certification
  • Travel and registration costs for a training or conference that expands operations or managerial knowledge in running a water system
  • Install or upgrade storage facilities
  • Contracting for assistance in developing a budget for a water utility
  • Hosting an area-wide training for local tribes to address a specific drinking water issue, such as new regulations or how to treat a particular pollutant
How can you participate?

To discuss project ideas, contact your Region 9 drinking water contact.

Additional Contacts

Deborah Patton (deborah.patton@itcaonline.com)
Inter Tribal Council of Arizona
(602) 258-4822

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Safe Drinking Water (SDWA) Programs

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) regulates all public water systems in the United States. The act sets regulations defining standards for drinking water contaminants and implements monitoring and reporting requirements.

Drinking Water Act Tribal Set-Aside Program (DWTSA)

photo of: Pipeline Installation workers at Gila River, Arizona
Pipeline Installation at Gila River, Arizona

The Drinking Water Act Tribal Set-Aside Program (DWTSA) provides funding to construct infrastructure improvements for public water systems serving federally recognized indian tribes and Alaska Native Villages (ANVs). Projects addressing the greatest health risks are ranked highest for funding. The grants are for the planning, design, and constructions of drinking water facilities.

Examples of Eligible Activities
  • Install or upgrade treatment facilities
  • Rehabilitate or develop sources (excluding dams)
  • Install or upgrade storage facilities
  • Install or replace transmission and distribution pipes
  • Physically consolidate existing public water systems

This program has funded $29 million in projects since FY2000 including 29 feasibility studies and 48 construction projects. Each year the DWTSA program in Region 9 receives approximately $4 million. DWTSA funds come from a 1.5% set-aside of the Drinking Water Act State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF) program. No matching funds are required, but eligibility criteria includes adequate technical, financial, and managerial capacity.

Contact Information

Emmanuelle Rapicavoli (rapicavoli.emmanuelle@epa.gov)
DWTSA Coordinator, EPA Region 9
Drinking Water Protection Section (WTR 3-2)
Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, Ca 94105
(415) 972-3969
Fax: (415) 947-3545

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Tribal Border Infrastructure Program

Developing well for Manzanita Band of Kumeyaay Nation
Developing well for Manzanita Band of Kumeyaay Nation

EPA will issue a request for project proposals when funds for the tribal border infrastructure program becomes available. The request for proposals will be posted on EPA's Web site and mailed to tribes within the 62-mile Border Region.

Examples of eligible activities
  • Sewer systems, pump stations, and treatment plants
  • On-site wastewater treatment systems
  • Drinking water transmission lines, storage tanks, pump stations
  • Waters treatment plants

This program is funded by Congressional Special Appropriations for the U.S./Mexico Border program.


36 projects for 14 Tribes have been funded. Two-thirds of these projects are complete or under construction. At a cost of $2,615 per home, this program has provided basic sanitation for 1800 homes and safe drinking water for 7900 homes.

Contact Information
Erskine D. Benjamin II
EPA Region IX, WTR-10
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Tel. (415) 972-3561
Fax (415) 947-3537
Audrey L. Johnson
EPA Region IX, WTR-10
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Tel. (415) 972-3431
Fax (415) 947-3537

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Tribal Source Water Protection Program

The purpose of the Tribal Source Water Program is to protect the public health of communities through preventing the contamination of drinking water. The Source Water Program is voluntary for tribes. Region 9 is proactively working with tribes through education and outreach, as well as technical assistance and funding to help tribes develop and implement a Source Water Program.

A Source Water Program enables tribes to assess possible contamination threats to their public drinking water supply sources and to develop and implement protection measures to protect these sources against contamination threats.

Source water assessments include four basic steps and provide a basis for developing and implementing protection measures.

EPA Region 9 is currently accepting proposals for Direct Implementation Tribal Cooperative Agreements (DITCAs) funding.

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Funding Accomplishments

Through the Region 9 Source Water Assessment Direct Implementation Tribal Cooperative Agreements (DITCA) program, the Ground Water Office funds tribes to carry out Source Water assessment and protection activities to protect their sources of drinking water.

Funds typically range from $25,000 to $85,000 per Tribe. Tribes are encouraged to complete a source water assessment before applying for source water protection funds. Funds only cover public water supplies. There are no matching requirements for these funds.

Examples of Eligible Activities
  • Conduct EPA Approved 4-Step Source Water Assessment on tribally operated public water system(s)
  • Develop and implement a Source Water Protection Program to manage and mitigate risks identified in the Source Water Assessment
  • Establish a Source Water Protection Team
  • Land Use Protection (zoning ordinances)
  • Public Education Efforts
  • Contingency Planning
  • Organize illegal dumping clean-up days
  • Onsite wastewater treatment system Management Program development

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Sustainable Region 9 Greening Grants Policy

EPA Region 9 is implementing this Greening Grants Policy (PDF) (11 pp, 700K) to incorporate sustainability practices into projects funded under EPA assistance agreements. This policy furthers the objectives of EPA 's 2011-15 Strategic Plan which calls for the Agency to "...build resilience to climate change by integrating considerations of climate change impacts and adaptive measures into five major grant. loan, contract, or technical assistance programs ... " It also complements the EPA Memorandum entitled Incorporating Climate Change Adaptation Considerations info Applicable Assistance Agreement Competitive Funding Opportunity Announcements (October 18, 2011) which strongly encourages EPA offices to include climate change adaption evaluation criteria in competitive assistance agreement funding announcements.

EPA encourages applicants to include sustainability practices, such as those listed below:
  • Environmentally Preferable Purchasing
  • Materials Management: Resource Conservation and Green Disposal
  • Green Conferences/Meetings and Alternatives to Traditional Travel

Various green practices are more fully described in the Greening Grants Measures and Practices attachment to the Sustainable Region 9 Greening Grants Policy (PDF) (11 pp, 700K) and should be evaluated in light of the specific statutory and regulatory requirements of each grant program as well as the goals and activities of each assistance agreement.

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Outreach Material

Understanding Source Water Assessment and Protection

Protecting Drinking Water: A Workbook for Tribes is produced by Water Education Foundation with funding and assistance from EPA. It provides guidance on understanding the Source Water Assessment and Protection Programs and their importance. To request a hard copy, contact EPA. Not all SWAP and SWPP activities and measures listed in Protecting Drinking Water: A Workbook for Tribes may be funded under this grant. Contact EPA for sample OWTS Operation and Maintenance Tracking Sheet and a detailed description of OWTS Management Program steps.

Ground Water Source Water Assessments, Step 2: Delineation

EPA's Wellhead Analytic Element Model, WhAEM2000 for Windows (98/NT/2K/XP), is a groundwater geohydrology computer program. WhAEM2000 is a public domain, ground-water flow model designed to facilitate capture zone delineation and protection area mapping in support of the State's Wellhead Protection Programs (WHPP) and Source Water Assessment Planning (SWAP) for public water supplies in the United States. WhAEM is available at EPA's Exposure Assessment Models website.

Fact sheet on Tribal Source Water Programs, "Drinking Water Quality in Indian Country: Protecting Your Sources (PDF)" (4 pp, 428K)

Contact Information

Ephraim Leon-Guerrero (leon-guerrero.ephraim@epa.gov)
Phone: 415-972-3444

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