Central Valley tribe begins building new sewage plant
February 18, 2011
• Will use $8.1 Million in stimulus funds to help pay for it
• ‘Will have a tremendous positive impact’
The Tule River Indian tribe has started construction on its own sewage treatment plant that will ultimately replace use of most septic systems on the reservation east of Porterville in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
A 2007 Tule River wastewater feasibility study by the Indian Health Service concluded that 30 percent of all septic tank/drainfield systems failed and an additional 30 percent were expected to fail. Health risks from surface effluent and poor wastewater service are now major issues for the tribe, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says.
Upon completion in 2012, the new system will serve 268 homes, provide 6.9 miles of collection system pipeline and establish 371 residential connections. The project will also provide for a wastewater treatment facility that will treat an average daily flow of 100,000 gallons per day, an effluent storage pond and a 7.5 acre leachfield for effluent disposal.
EPA is contributing $6.3 million to the project through the Clean Water Indian Set Aside program and the Indian Health Service is providing an additional $1.8 million.
“This sewage treatment plant will have a tremendous positive impact on the lives of the Tule River residents,” says Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “When completed, the facility will bring immediate health benefits to the many families it will serve.”
Tribal Chairman Ryan Garfield says the project is “extremely important for the enhancement and safeguarding of water quality, natural resources and community health on the reservation as well as downstream.”
“Without the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding through the Obama Administration, the Tule River Indian Reservation would not have had the necessary resources to support this project and provide these services to our community,” he says.
The Clean Water Indian Set-Aside program provides funding for planning, design, and construction of wastewater infrastructure for Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages in either an interagency agreement or a direct grant.
The Tule River reservation was established in 1873 and currently owns over 55,400 acres. The Tribe has a current population of 1,623 members, with 876 living on the Reservation in 285 homes.