This story is a staff report from The Paper.

The Bureau of Reclamation announced last week that 31 tribes in 12 states will receive $9.9 million through the Native American Affairs Technical Assistance to Tribes Program, including several in New Mexico.

“Water 2021 was one of the most hydrologically challenging years to date. As the year unfolded, Reclamation recognized the need to reprogram $100 million dollars to directly deal with the drought and to build resiliency into the future. This funding is a part of that reprogramming and will help facilitate partnerships with Tribes and Tribal organizations as they address severe and continued drought conditions affecting their critical water resources,” said Bureau of Reclamation Deputy Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. “Reclamation is committed to partnering with Indian Tribes and Tribal nations on these important water resources issues.”

Reclamation’s Native American Affairs Technical Assistance Program provides technical assistance to Indian Tribes to develop, manage, and protect their water and related resources. The program has supported a broad range of activities each year since its inception in the early 1990s. 

Given the historic drought conditions this year, the Department of the Interior made several investments to help mitigate the effects of the west-wide drought on the ground, including reprogramming significant funding into drought-related programs and projects. This included a significant increase in funding for the Native American Affairs Technical Assistance Program to help Tribal communities throughout the West by increasing water supply sustainability and drought resiliency.

“This funding is part of Interior’s continued commitment to partner with and upholds our trust responsibilities to Tribal nations,” said Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo. “It also comes amid record federal investments in Tribal communities, particularly from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will make transformational investments in Indian Country, provide further funding to reach more communities and develop longer-term measures to respond to drought and climate change, and replace aging infrastructure.”

The funding will be provided to Tribes as grants or cooperative agreements. The projects selected for funding in New Mexico are:

·        Isleta Pueblo Mound Rio Erosion Control, $150,000

·        Jemez Pueblo Pecos Diversion Dam Improvements, $250,000

·        San Filipe Pueblo Phase II, $399,998

·        Santa Clara Pueblo Phase II-Main Ditch Liner, $400,000

·        Taos Nose Pipeline Phase II Improvements, $400,000

·        Zuni Supply Options Assessment, $266,000

The Native American and International Affairs Office in the Commissioner’s Office serves as the central coordination point for the Native American Affairs Program and leads for policy guidance for Native American issues in Reclamation. To learn more, please visit www.usbr.gov/native.