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New USDA water investment will expand clean water access for Arizona tribes

An investment of $1.2 million by the USDA will grant tribes in northern Arizona access to clean water from reliable sources.

NAVAJO COUNTY, Ariz. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture will invest $1.2 million to expand access to clean water for many tribal communities located in northern Arizona, the department announced on Thursday.

This is part of a $13 million investment the department is using to expand access to improved water infrastructure and economic opportunities for people in colonies, and rural and tribal communities, according to the USDA.

“Access to water is easy to take for granted when it comes out of the tap already treated and free-flowing,” said USDA Rural Development Arizona state director, Charlene Fernandez. “However, this isn’t the reality in much of rural Arizona. Hauling water is a daily activity for too many of our rural residents. Today’s announcement will ensure more people in our state will enjoy easier access to safe, clean water.”

RELATED: Navajo sign water rights settlement with Utah and feds

Those who haul water have to rely on unregulated and sometimes contaminated water sources, according to Painted Desert Demonstration Projects Inc., a nonprofit K-8 school that serves Navajo Nation families. The lack of clean water for tribes was especially an issue during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Navajo citizens could not wash their hands and leaving the house to haul water put them at a risk of exposure to the virus.

The $1.2 million will allow the project to replace a water storage tank with an on-site solar-powered water pumping systems for Navajo and Hopi tribes, according to the USDA. This gives residents access to point-of-service watering stations rather than other unreliable sources of water.

RELATED: US tribes see hope for clean water in infrastructure bill

The investments come from the Biden-Harris Administration's continued efforts to ensure people living in tribes and rural communities have an improved quality of living.

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