posted on November 12, 2012 10:41
Though their climates could not be more different, the Colonias of the rural southwest United States and the Alaska Native Villages, share similar struggles with inadequate infrastructure. Though many rural and tribal communities face real challenges, as a whole these areas are most lacking in access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation.
We recently heard about two positive stories involving funding from U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Water and Environmental Program.
On the Tohono O'odham Nation in southwest Arizona, "a partnership between USDA RD and the Indian Health Services made possible the construction of stand-alone modular bathrooms—with a toilet, shower, water heater, and indoor/outdoor lighting."
Three thousand miles away in Toksook Bay, Alaska residents are looking forward to a new USDA-funded treatment plant that "will provide these residents with improved health to people who currently self-haul waste in five gallon buckets and collect rain for drinking water."
In both regions, federal agencies are actively collaborating to address the water infrastructure and other needs. The Border Capital Community Initiative institutes a partnership between USDA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Treasury Department.
Similarly, the Infrastructure Task Force to Improve Access to Safe Drinking Water and Basic Sanitation in Indian Country includes five federal partners: USDA, HUD, Department of Health and Human Services (Indian Health Service), Department of the Interior (Bureau of Indian Affairs), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
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