CONFEDERATED TRIBES OF WARM SPRINGS -- Warm Springs is getting $28 million in federal funding to build a new water treatment plant. Oregon U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley visited the site Monday, along with tribal leaders.
"There is a shameful legacy, right here in this spot of Oregon," said Wyden, "The burst pipes, the boil water notices, year after year of failing water treatment." He added, the funding ensures the community has safe, reliable drinking water, "That horrendous legacy of the past where families would suffer here, and people all across Oregon would get up in the morning and they’d be able to have clean water for their families. We’re on our way to that kind of future right here; and it is long, long overdue."
The two Democrats say they worked together to secure the investment through the omnibus spending package and the Environmental Protection Agency. "Members of the Confederated Tribes have just waited far too long for something that ought to be a basic human right," said Wyden.
And he says more work is needed, "So, I wrote a law called the Western Tribal Water Infrastructure Act, which means that in the future, Warm Springs and other tribes will have the ability to cut through some of this red tape." He believes it will streamline the process when other repairs are needed.
"Water is life," said Tribal Council Chairman Jonathan Smith, "For us, water is everything. It's the first thing we put down at the Long House; it's something we protect for our fish, for the ecosystem."
Wyden also announced money for the Warm Springs Housing Authority to build eight new homes, "The Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing two-million dollars to increase the availability of affordable housing for tribal members here." The Burns Paiute Tribe is also getting nearly a million dollars from HUD to repair a cultural heritage center.