Repairs planned for dams in tribal communities
By Jenna Kunze
The Department of the Interior today announced a $29 million investment in dam safety programs for tribal communities.
The money, included in the bipartisan Infrastructure Act’s $13 billion spending for tribal communities across the country, will specifically benefit the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ irrigation, power and dam safety programs. .
Six dams that currently exceed safety guidelines will be redesigned and repaired, including one at Fort Apache Reservation in Arizona, one at Crow Reservation in Montana and two at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
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The reservoir formed by the Oglala Dam on the Pine Ridge Reservation was drained in 2019 to protect downstream communities after flood damage. The repair project, slated for completion in 2026, will repair the damage and restore an important local water supply for the community of Pine Ridge, according to the Interior news release.
“In addition to the resources we have allocated to irrigation water supply systems and water sanitation systems in Indian Country, today’s announcement will further protect the water supply of tribes, supporting families and communities,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. “This is another step in the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to invest in the communities that need it most.”
Indian Affairs Assistant Secretary Bryan Newland said maintenance and repairs to the dams have been delayed for years, now costing more than $1 billion to maintain.
He said the $29 million investment “will make communities safer and provide additional water for irrigation and other purposes.”
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