Oglala Dam on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

Tribal water and dam safety projects get $27 million federal boost

January 10, 2024

The Department of the Interior has made $27 million available to help Tribal communities repair and upgrade clean water systems and replacing failing dams. The funds, available through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) are part of an ongoing effort to help tribes make critical infrastructure improvements nationwide.

In South Dakota, $12 million will go toward repairs to the Ogala Dam on the Pine Ridge Reservation, which was drained in 2019 to protect downstream communities following flood damage. To date, the BIA has put $68 million toward the $78 million project. Repairs are expected to be completed by 2026, federal officials said in a 2022 release.

In southern Arizona, $10.3 million will go to a project to replace the Menager Dam to provide flood protection for downstream communities on the Tohono O’odham Nation Reservation.

The BIA also will allocate $4.1 million to address water sanitation needs at Columbia River Treaty Fishing Access sites in the Pacific Northwest. That effort calls for spending of $2.9 million and $1.2 million at the sites of Cooks In-Lieu and North Bonneville, respectively.  

The funds come from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which is slated to invest $13 billion in American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal communities over five years. Another $250 million will be directed toward Tribal dams and water projects as part of a broader effort to protect Tribal communities and safeguard water supplies.   

“Dam safety and water sanitation projects are crucial to ensuring the health, safety and prosperity of Indigenous communities,” Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland said in a Department of the Interior release announcing funding for the projects.  

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Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of the Interior

Paul Stinson

Paul Stinson has more than 15 years of journalism experience, including a decade covering the legislative and regulatory affairs of Texas, South Africa, and Germany for an affiliate of Bloomberg, L.P. His experience includes covering voting rights and the sectors of environment, energy, labor, healthcare, and taxes. Stinson joined the team in October as a reporter for SPI’s news publications, which include Government Contracting Pipeline, Texas Government Insider, and the newly-launched Government Market News. He is also a Fulbright Scholar to Germany, and an Arthur F. Burns Fellow. He holds a master’s in journalism from Indiana University.   

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