Newsletter #21 for July/August 2015
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Navajo Nation, Southern Ute respond to Gold King Mine spill

Credit: La Plata Office of Emergency Management
On August 5 workers from the U.S. EPA accidentally released 3 million gallons of wastewater from Colorado's Gold King Mine into Cement Creek. This creek feeds into the Animas River and winds through the Southern Ute reservation. The tribe declared a state of disaster to activate relief efforts, but did re-open to river to recreation on August 14. A reservoir, and not the Animas River, is the source for the local public water supply in Ignacio. However, those served by private wells in the region have been advised to take precautions if recent well testing shows elevated manganese.

Downstream the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) took two wells off line near the Utah-Colorado border earlier this month in anticipation of heavy metals from the Gold King Mine reaching the San Juan River. Though local and tribal officials declared a state of emergency, there has been no disruption in service to customers of the NTUA. Hauled water from alternate sources is currently supplementing the loss of the two wells and other parts of the system are isolated from impacts. The Navajo Nation is providing drinking water to those not on the public water system through a potable water tanker at the Montezuma Creek Fire Station.    

Upcoming NAWMA Meetings

The Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA), and the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) are working together to provide training and technical assistance through existing and newly-formed Native American Water Masters Associations (NAWMAs). 

The purpose of NAWMA meetings is to provide a forum for training and discussion on regulations, technologies, and issues facing tribal water utilities. There is no cost for membership to this professional organization, which is open to all individuals working with tribally-owned and operated water utilities meeting US EPA program guidelines.

For a complete list of NAWMA meeting dates and contact information, see our list on the websiteUpcoming dates include:
Steve Wilson, groundwater hydrologist and instructor of The Private Well Class, provided face-to-face training recently at the Tonawanda-Seneca and Tuscarora Nations in upstate New York.

Events for Tribal Water Systems

Safe Drinking Water Act Compliance and Maintenance
September 8-10, 2015 | Airway Heights, Washington
Hosted by Indian Health Service

This three-day course is designed to provide an overview of the Safe Drinking Water Act and to provide tools to maintain compliance. | Click here for more information.

SDWA 101: Basics and Consumer Confidence Reporting
September 21-23, 2015 | Santa Ana Pueblo, NM
Hosted by ITCA

The Safe Drinking Water Act 101 training course will explore the regulatory structures of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) as it pertains to Tribal water systems.Click here for more information.
Want to find additional training opportunities for operators,
including events in your area?
Search the Training Calendar

Featured Resource

Decentralized Systems Technology Fact Sheets
via U.S. EPA

EPA has developed a series of fact sheets on alternative onsite wastewater technologies, such as aerobic treatment, recirculating sand filters, and mound systems.

Click here to download.
Have a different question?
You can find thousands of helpful resources in our database.
Search the Document Database

In the News

NM tribe can assume Clean Water Act authority, EPA says
In July, the Pueblo of Santa Ana became the 50th tribe to receive federal authority to administer water quality standards and certification programs under the Clean Water Act. The U.S. EPA decision gives the Pueblo authority in the majority of the Tamaya Indian Reservation in New Mexico. An area of about 1,000 acres known as the San Felipe Overlap was left out of the decision at the tribe’s request. 

Water Court stays adjudication of Flathead Basin until 2017
Water claims in the Flathead Basin have been put on hold while the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Water Compact moves through the U.S. Congress. The agreement, which would settle thousands of tribal claims, quantifies and defines water rights on the Flathead Indian Reservation and on several rivers and streams outside the reservation. The Montana Legislature approved the compact in April, but it must be ratified by Congress and tribal governments before it can be put in place. 

Tribal leaders meet with Utah governor for 10th summit
Gov. Gary Herbert and leaders of the state’s eight sovereign tribes convened at Utah Valley University in July to discuss key issues on tribal lands, including economic development, infrastructure and drinking water. The event was attended by 600 people. 

DOE to issue funding to Tribes to promote renewable energy efforts
The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs has said that it will issue a funding opportunity announcement later this year for projects that improve energy efficiency and deploy community-scale clean energy systems on tribal lands. Past awards include a grant to New Mexico’s Santo Domingo Tribe to install a ground-mounted, 115-kilowatt PV system to power the community water pump and treatment facility. 

City seeks grant to replace Colony utility systems
Residents of the Yerington Paiute Tribe Colony area of Yerington, Nev could see new water and sewer infrastructure if Yerington City is successful in its efforts to receive a grant for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Application for the grant was approved by the city council in July and made possible by the YPT Tribal Council decision to turn ownership of the tribe’s water and sewer distribution and collection system over to the city. Prior to the shift, the infrastructure belonged to the YPT, but the city provided the water and sewer service at a fee. is a free service, grant-funded to support small community water and wastewater operators with comprehensive resources and information in one easy-to-use place. We also serve the 800+ training, primacy, and technical service organizations, by helping operators get to their information. We aren't buying, selling, or advertising anything. You can call us at 1-866-522-2681 if you need assistance.

Recently at

Bolster your emergency plans with a roundtable discussion
Know what to do if water service is disrupted. 

How to Inspect and Flush a Fire Hydrant (VIDEO)
New skill-building video from RCAP offers visual instruction on routine maintenance of hydrants.

USEPA Launches Mobile Website for Utilities Responding to Emergencies (VIDEO)
A new mobile-friendly website from the USEPA lets you respond to emergencies using your smartphone or other mobile device.

Non-Profit Offers GIS Assistance to Tribes offers networking and resources for tribal water utility staff.

EFC Financial Sustainability and Rates Dashboards (VIDEO)
The EFC Rates Dashboard provides utilities with a free tool to compare their current rate structure with other similar utilities. 

USEPA Helps Utilities Prepare for Climate Change
EPA program can help utilities adapt to a changing climate.

Environmental Resources for Local Communities
LGEAN offers utilities and local officials a place to begin their response to environmental management issues.
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