National Tribal Water Center
The National Tribal Water Center (NTWC) is a nonprofit organization that seeks to provide informational resources to customers, utility staff, and local leadership in tribal communities around the US, particularly in rural Alaska. Previous work includes health initiatives to encourage the use of treated water, studies evaluating technological solutions to inadequate water access, research to determine the simplest and most cost-effective way to deliver safe water, and research on the health impact of in-home water service on the rates of infectious disease.
NTWC recognizes that customers may have concerns about billing, chemicals, youth education, and untreated water. In light of this, NTWC has a wealth of information that answers questions regarding these topics, as well as how to offer feedback and voice criticisms to service providers – an important element of an engaged community.
In addition, NTWC offers resources for utility operators, workers, and support staff that may want to get connected with more training opportunities, receive technical assistance, be able to address customer concerns, and in general become better able to serve their community.
NTWC recognizes that many communities may be moving towards cooperatively owned and managed water and wastewater systems. To this end, there are many resources for those interested in initiating community outreach, educational programs around water system sustainability and healthy water use, starting critical conversations, and celebrating local water culture. NTWC has also developed an Our Water Toolkit as a resource for American Indian and Alaska Native communities operating and managing water systems. The toolkit provides relevant materials, ways to connect with other organizations doing work with tribal water systems, and support for tribes moving towards functional, stable, and sustainable water systems.
NTWC also has a project that seeks to collect, organize, and maintain data and information about the current regulatory status, conditions, and use of unregulated water sources on tribal lands across the United States. Project Coyote Water will help identify which regions are most at risk of exposure to contaminants.
The Spokane Water Monitoring Project, another NTWC initiative, addresses the 2012 discovery that a number of wells on tribal land exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum contaminant levels for uranium in drinking water. To mitigate the situation, filters were installed in the affected homes. As a follow up, NTWC and the Center for Disease Control partnered with Spokane Tribe Department of Natural Resources to evaluate filter efficacy, test untested wells, assess contaminant levels seasonally, and test for additional contaminants. The data collected throughout this project will inform well filtration decisions as well as planning for future housing development.
Finally, NTWC seeks to promote art rooted in local culture to engage community members in water centered education. Water is Life is a community visioning project in which all are invited to share thoughts, stories, photos and songs representing local ties to water. A relationship between artists and community members, youth and elders, and ultimately customers and water operators provides the ties to address barriers in water system sustainability.
Communities of Color