On Thursday, May 28th, 2020, Congressman Don Young (R-AK-AL) and Congressman Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01) introduced H.R. 7056, legislation to allocate funding for the Indian Health Services Sanitation Facilities Construction Program to construct and improve critical sanitation projects throughout Native communities around the country.
The bipartisan bill addresses the Indian Health Service’s Sanitation Facilities Deficiency List, which was included in a 2018 report to Congress that detailed sanitation deficiency levels for tribal homes and communities, by setting aside $2.67 billion for fiscal years 2020 through 2024 for the planning, design, construction, modernization, improvement, and renovation of water, sewer, and solid waste sanitation facilities.
“Safe, clean water and sanitary sewer infrastructure are essential to protecting public health, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congressman Young. “Sadly, too many of our Native villages possess sewage systems that are aging or in various states of disrepair or still rely on unsafe systems like honey buckets. Inadequate water infrastructure puts Alaskan families at needless risk. I am proud to partner with my friend Congressman Tom O’Halleran on this critical legislation to provide funding to address deficient infrastructure in Native communities in Alaska and across the country. I will continue working to ensure access to safe water in rural and urban areas alike so that Alaska’s families can remain healthy and thrive.”
“Now, more than ever before, it is critical that families in tribal communities across America have access to safe water, wastewater, and sanitation systems for public health purposes,” said Congressman O’Halleran. “These much-needed funds have been placed firmly on Congress’s backburner for far too long, and the lack of attention to this matter has now complicated the already acute public health crisis created by COVID-19 on tribal lands across our country, especially on the Navajo Nation in my district.”