Skip to content

August 28, 2023

King Introduces Bill to Improve Clean Water Access for Maine Tribal Communities

The Tribal Access to Clean Water Act would invest over $1 billion in tribal water infrastructure

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Angus King has introduced a bill to expand clean water access in Tribal communities across Maine and the nation. The Tribal Access to Clean Water Act would significantly increase federal funding by over $1 billion for Tribal water and wastewater projects to reduce the number of Native American households without sufficient access to water infrastructure.

There are currently five Public Water Systems (PWS) in Maine that serve tribal residents, with some struggling to address water quality.

“Access to clean water is a fundamental necessity for successful and healthy communities,” said Senator King. “It’s simply unacceptable that in the 21st century so many Tribal families still lack the safe drinking water or sanitation systems they deserve. The Tribal Access to Clean Water Act would directly address the water infrastructure disparity facing Maine Tribes by funding critical expansions in filtration systems, household plumbing, wastewater disposal, and more. This is not an investment that can be delayed. I encourage my colleagues to consider and swiftly pass this bill on behalf of Maine’s Tribal communities.”

Nearly half of Native American households do not have access to reliable water sources and clean drinking water, with Native American homes being 19 times more likely than white households to lack indoor plumbing.

There are three Public Water Systems (PWS) in Maine that are tribally-owned:

  1. Sipayak Elementary School in Perry
  2. Samaqannihkuk in Perry, which has a “roadside bottling station on tribal land,” and
  3. Indian Township Tribal Water System in Princeton

Additionally, there are two PWSs that are not tribally-owned, but serve a group of tribal residents:

  1. Orono-Veazie Water District, and
  2. Passamaquoddy Water District in Eastport.  

The Tribal Access to Clean Water Act would:

  1. Ensure Indian Health Service (IHS) can meet demand, by authorizing funding to address needs for tribal sanitation facilities and services, and allow IHS to appropriately deploy these additional resources. The bill includes $150 million for training, and technical and financial assistance to plan and design projects, and $500 million for ongoing sanitation facility operation and maintenance.
  2. Increase funding for Native communities at USDA Rural Development, by authorizing $500 million for Community Facilities Grant and Loan Program for Native communities, and ensuring that Native communities are eligible and treated equitably when considered for grants and loans.
  3. Improves Bureau of Reclamation’s funding for Tribal water projects, by authorizing $90 million for BOR’s Native American Affairs Technical Assistance Program.

In addition to Senator King, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). A summary of the bill is available HERE.

Senator King has worked to ensure Maine’s Tribal communities receive the federal funding and support they deserve. He recently announced $750,000 for Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness (WPHW) to expand substance use disorder and mental health services, $5 million for the Passamaquoddy Tribe to respond to climate-related environmental threats, and $1,082,00 to replace the Foxcroft Road and Clover Circle wastewater lift stations which serve the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians.


Next Article » « Previous Article