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Open AccessCommunication

Challenges and Opportunities for Tribal Waters: Addressing Disparities in Safe Public Drinking Water on the Crow Reservation in Montana, USA

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Apsaalooke Water and Wastewater Authority, P.O. Box 126, Crow Agency, MT 59022, USA
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Crow Environmental Health Steering Committee, Little Big Horn College, Crow Agency, MT 59022, USA
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Crow Water Quality Project, Little Big Horn College, P.O. Box 370, Crow Agency, MT 59022, USA
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Crow Tribe of Indians, P.O. Box 159, Crow Agency, MT 59022, USA
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Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University, P.O. Box 173980, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA
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Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Montana State University, P.O. Box 173520, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA
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College of Engineering, Montana State University, P.O. Box 173820, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(4), 567; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15040567
Received: 9 February 2018 / Revised: 13 March 2018 / Accepted: 17 March 2018 / Published: 21 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Collection Achieving Environmental Health Equity: Great Expectations)
Disparities in access to safe public drinking water are increasingly being recognized as contributing to health disparities and environmental injustice for vulnerable communities in the United States. As the Co-Directors of the Apsaálooke Water and Wastewater Authority (AWWWA) for the Crow Tribe, with our academic partners, we present here the multiple and complex challenges we have addressed in improving and maintaining tribal water and wastewater infrastructure, including the identification of diverse funding sources for infrastructure construction, the need for many kinds of specialized expertise and long-term stability of project personnel, ratepayer difficulty in paying for services, an ongoing legacy of inadequate infrastructure planning, and lack of water quality research capacity. As a tribal entity, the AWWWA faces additional challenges, including the complex jurisdictional issues affecting all phases of our work, lack of authority to create water districts, and additional legal and regulatory gaps—especially with regards to environmental protection. Despite these obstacles, the AWWWA and Crow Tribe have successfully upgraded much of the local water and wastewater infrastructure. We find that ensuring safe public drinking water for tribal and other disadvantaged U.S. communities will require comprehensive, community-engaged approaches across a broad range of stakeholders to successfully address these complex legal, regulatory, policy, community capacity, and financial challenges. View Full-Text
Keywords: drinking water; municipal water; water infrastructure; water treatment; health disparities; environmental justice; environmental health; Native American; Indian law; community-engaged research; CBPR drinking water; municipal water; water infrastructure; water treatment; health disparities; environmental justice; environmental health; Native American; Indian law; community-engaged research; CBPR
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MDPI and ACS Style

Doyle, J.T.; Kindness, L.; Realbird, J.; Eggers, M.J.; Camper, A.K. Challenges and Opportunities for Tribal Waters: Addressing Disparities in Safe Public Drinking Water on the Crow Reservation in Montana, USA. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 567.

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