The Department of the Interior today announced a $29 million investment in dam safety programs for tribal communities.

The money, included in the $13 billion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s spending on tribal communities across the country, will specifically benefit the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Irrigation, Power, and Safety of Dams programs.

Six dams that currently exceed safety guidelines will be re-designed and repaired— including one at the Fort Apache Reservation in Arizona, one at the Crow Reservation in Montana, and two at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

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The reservoir formed by Oglala Dam on the Pine Ridge Reservation was drained in 2019 to protect communities downstream after flood damage. The repair project, slated for completion in 2026, will repair damages and restore an important local water supply for the Pine Ridge community, according to the Interior’s press release.

“In addition to the resources we have allocated for irrigation power systems and water sanitation systems in Indian Country, today’s announcement will further safeguard tribal water supplies, supporting families and communities,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in a statement. “This is yet another step in the Biden-Harris administration’s effort to put investments into communities that need them most.”

Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland said that maintenance and repairs on dams have been delayed for years, amounting to today’s maintenance cost of more than a billion dollars. 

He said that the $29 million investment “will make communities safer and provide additional water for irrigation and other purposes.” 

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About The Author
Jenna Kunze
Author: Jenna KunzeEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Staff Writer
Jenna Kunze is a reporter for Native News Online and Tribal Business News. Her bylines have appeared in The Arctic Sounder, High Country News, Indian Country Today, Smithsonian Magazine and Anchorage Daily News. In 2020, she was one of 16 U.S. journalists selected by the Pulitzer Center to report on the effects of climate change in the Alaskan Arctic region. Prior to that, she served as lead reporter at the Chilkat Valley News in Haines, Alaska. Kunze is based in New York.