April Hathcoat, a director with the Cherokee Nation Environmental Programs, explains water quality testing at the tribe’s Tahlequah laboratory.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation Environmental Programs was recently awarded a $300,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to create a national tribal mentoring program that focuses on the development and reporting of water quality assessments.
The Environmental Information Exchange Network Grant will provide the Cherokee Nation with $100,000 per year for three years. In return, Cherokee Nation Environmental Programs staff will help tribes across the country use a new EPA reporting tool called ATTAINS, which stands for the Assessment, Total Maximum Daily Load Tracking and Implementation System.
This online system allows states, territories, tribes, the EPA and other partners to submit water quality data using an integrated reporting process.
“Over the past year, we have been active within our 14 counties and across Indian Country when it comes to the conservation of water,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Now, with this grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, a new door has been opened for our environmental programs. Tribes across the country will have a strong mentor and partner in the Cherokee Nation. Our environmental programs will play a vital role in educational efforts and outreach to tribal water programs.”
Cherokee Nation Environmental Programs staff will develop a webpage to serve as a resource for tribes that want to learn more about ATTAINS. Staff will also create and coordinate workshops, trainings and meetings taught by the EPA and tribal mentors, and they will publish a newsletter to showcase the ATTAINS reporting tool for tribal water programs.
“This is another example of Cherokee Nation serving as a leader in Indian Country,” Cherokee Nation Secretary of Natural Resources Sara Hill said. “Not only does the Cherokee Nation depend on the technical ability and excellence of our Environmental Programs staff, but tribes across the country depend on them, too. We are looking forward to working with various EPA regional water programs and tribal water staff across the nation.”
The Clean Water Act requires states, territories and some tribes to monitor water quality and report to EPA on the waters they have evaluated through the process known as assessment.
Cherokee Nation Environmental Programs can begin working on the project in October.
Cherokee Nation News Release
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