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Advancing Environmental Justice Through Access to Clean Water

Native American communities throughout the United States face urgent issues related to access to clean and reliable drinking water supplies. Lack of access to clean water has been exacerbated by decades of public neglect, a maze of overlapping federal agencies and programs, and significant capacity limitations among tribal governments. In midst of the COVID pandemic, which brought fresh attention to this important environmental justice issue, Culp & Kelly and CK Blueshift joined a group of tribal, academic, and non-profit advocates working through the Water and Tribes Initiative to undertake a comprehensive exploration of these issues. The Universal Access to Clean Water for Tribal Communities initiative developed a series of recommendations for immediate legal, practical, and policy reforms, and successfully supported a multi-billion-dollar expansion of funding for tribal water infrastructure through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. We also co-authored a resulting report and agency roadmap that detail both the challenges and potential solutions to this urgent public health and equity challenge: Universal Access to Clean Water for Tribes in the Colorado River Basin and Recommendations for Operational, Administrative, Policy, and Regulatory Reform.