As you know, over the past 8 months, I would periodically give updates on our current water supply here. The water coming from our faucets is not clean or drinkable. In 2019, high levels of radon and manganese were found in our water supply. Consuming the water can be harmful to people, especially infants.
I had learned the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) had a fund for tribes for potable water, or drinking water. There was an application process to receive this water, and I had filled that our ordering about 80 pallets of water and sent it in to the BIA office in Winnebago, NE. After asking about that status of bottled water a few times we were able to get the first shipment of bottled water this past July.
The most current news on our water situation:
In August, I attended a Region 7 Tribal Leader Summit with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Kansas City, MO. This was a 3-day conference with nine other tribes in Region 7 with FEMA and 9 other Federal agencies. The purpose of the summit was to discuss emergency planning, hazard mitigation planning, and learn how to create an emergency plan with a mitigation plan. It was a very informative and interesting meeting. The second day of the meeting we had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with all these agencies. I met with EPA, HUD, USDA, HHS, FEMA grants management, logistics, and mitigation teams, Dept of Energy, etc. I explained our water situation especially to the EPA, HHS and FEMA.
With FEMA I asked this question: we do not have clean drinking water, in fact we are not supposed to drink water from the water supply we have. IHS hads drilled everywhere using infraraed and ground penetrating radar to locat water but have no found quanitity or quality water. At this point, we either pay to connect to a rural water distri t, or build a water treatment facitliy each of which would cot money that we don’t have. You all, FEMA, have the power to recommend to the President of the United States that an emergency be declared for the Santee Sioux Nation to fix our water so we can have clean drinking water. Can FEMA do this?
Representative from FEMA explained it is possible, and the Flint Michigan water crisis may have set a precedent for us to get our water problem solved. An emergency declaration from the President was declared for Flint Michigan water in 2016, and it seems we may have an opportunity to have the same happen here fro the Santee Sioux Nation water. I was told FEMA would need to look into it and research our water here to get more information, but at this point much of the information is already documented. I have already sent a lot of documents and waters statistics to FEMA Tribal Liaison and other FEMA representative. Of course these discussions are al l preliminary and no promises were made, but I feel we could have an opportunity here. I will continue to keep you all updates on water and this news from FEMA.