Dept Of Interior: Chart New Course Or Face Water Shortages - SMSC Economic Development And Grant Loans
By Kathy Helms
WINDOW ROCK – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said this week that unless the country charts a new course, it will be left with water shortages and a water crisis that could affect almost every community across the country.
A 20 percent reduction in water flow is anticipated in the Colorado River due to climate change, he said.
Salazar signed a secretarial order Monday establishing a new water sustainability strategy for the United States called WaterSMART. The “SMART” stands for “Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow.”
“The federal government’s existing water policies and programs simply are not built for 21st century pressures that we face today,” Salazar said.
“We have population growth, climate change, rising energy demands, environmental needs, aging infrastructure, risks to drinking water supply – and those are just some of the challenges that we face. We in the United States can do better.”
The order was signed at a press conference featuring a presentation on water supply and demand by Anne Castle, assistant secretary for Science and Water.
“We consume in America roughly three times per capita what the Chinese do,” Castle said. “Consumption is one side of the water balance equation; the demand side and supply is the other part. And we can’t make the classic comparisons of water supply and demand without considering the dynamic side of the equation, the part that’s changing due to population growth.”
Castle's briefing showed that the biggest use of water in the West is for irrigation purposes while energy production is the biggest use in the eastern part of the United States. She presented a report in November, “Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2005,” which showed that electricity generation and irrigation together accounted for 80 percent of water use.
According to that report, Americans used 410 billion gallons per day in 2005, slightly less than in 2000, which was attributed to more efficient irrigation systems and alternative technologies at power plants. Nearly half, or 49 percent, of the 410 billion gallons per day was used for electricity production. Irrigation accounted for 31 percent and public supply 11 percent. The remaining 9 percent was for self-supplied industrial, livestock, aquaculture, mining and rural domestic uses.
WaterSMART will provide a national framework to coordinate water sustainability efforts and also will support the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Census, which will be conducted for the first time in 30 years.
According to the secretarial order, aggressive action is required to address future water supply challenges, including degradation in water quality caused by pollution and land use practices, decreases in flow, declines in groundwater levels, and aging water infrastructure.
Anticipated increases in population, development of tribal water rights, and renewed emphasis on domestic energy development will place additional demands on already stressed supplies. Ecosystems also require adequate supplies of
President Obama has proposed reducing overall consumption of potable water by 26 percent by 2020, and industrial, landscaping and agricultural water by 20 percent. At the same time, his proposed build-out of nuclear power plants will require substantial quantities of water.
Salazar said addressing water equity issues is one of the Interior’s highest priorities. He noted that Interior's 2011 budget proposed by Obama doubles the current enacted 2010 appropriations for water programs and includes $72.9 million for the WaterSMART program, a total increase of $36.4 million over 2010.
Poor water quality and water shortages often impact Native American and low-income communities. On the Navajo Nation, many families haul drinking water from contaminated livestock watering points because they have no other choice.
In the Black Falls area, the non-profit grassroots group the Forgotten People has been trying to come up with a mere $250,000 to provide safe drinking water supplies to 90 families drinking uranium- and arsenic-contaminated water. Residents suffer from cancer, leukemia, thyroid deficiencies, kidney disease, stomach ailments and other health conditions.
On Jan. 15, the Navajo Nation Commission on Emergency Management declared a public health state of emergency for residents living in the remote areas of northwestern Leupp and southeastern Cameron, which includes Black Falls. Though President Shirley concurred with the declaration, so far, there has been little assistance from tribal or federal resources.
Salazar said he is directing the Interior to increase available water supply for agricultural, municipal, industrial, and environmental uses in the western United States by 350,000 acre-feet by 2012.
In follow-up to the order, Castle met with stakeholders from the seven Colorado River Basin states – Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, California, Nevada, Colorado and Wyoming – this week at a workshop in Las Vegas to help frame the new initiative and to discuss how to adjust to the Colorado River reduction in water flow.
In January, the Colorado River Board of California sent a letter asking the National Science Foundation to set up a competitive research grant program on the order of $25 million to develop regional climate models needed to estimate impacts in the Colorado River Basin, the largest single source of imported water supply for Southern California.
Gerald R. Zimmerman, executive director, said preliminary estimates from global climate models show decreases of 6 percent to 50 percent in runoff by the mid- to latter part of the century – a range so large that it is meaningless for public agencies to use in their decision-making.
Hydrologic modeling being performed through the University of Colorado in an attempt to reconcile the estimates show that about 15 percent of high-elevation watershed contributes about 85 percent of the Colorado River's total runoff.
Historically, the Colorado River system, which is shared among the seven states and the Republic of Mexico, has been a highly reliable water source, however, that is expected to change in the future as population growth increases demands on the system, Zimmerman said.
“Reservoir operations modeling performed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for the Lower Basin indicates that shortages will begin occurring and will increase in frequency over the coming decades, absent any consideration of climate change impacts,” he said.
SMSC Announces $52 Million In Economic Development Loans:
Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Tribes; Yankton Sioux Tribe; Upper Sioux Community
by Tessa Lehto
Prior Lake, MN – The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a leader in promoting tribal sovereignty through economic development loans and grants. The nature of Indian trust land makes it unavailable for use as collateral and complicates lending through traditional banking structures.
Tribal government processes and organization can further complicate matters. For these reasons, in fiscal year 2009 the SMSC made $129 million in loans to Indian tribes for economic development projects. For fiscal year 2010, which began October 1, 2009, the SMSC has already approved $52 million in loans to two out of state Indian tribes and to one Minnesota tribe for economic development projects.
The Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Tribes, formerly known as the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota, was approved for a loan for up to $30 million for several economic development and community infrastructure projects.
It will include refinancing of outstanding tribal debt to decrease debt service, improve the tribal operating budget, and retire all casino revenue secured debt. The loan will fund new working capital needs to retain and create tribal government jobs as well as provide funding to support government operations for two years.
The Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota was approved for a loan for $13 million to build a new casino to replace the Fort Randall Casino, which opened in 1991. The new facility is slated to be part of a multi-phased development project designed to make Fort Randall Casino one of South Dakota’s premier destination resorts.
Phase one will feature a new gaming floor. Additional slot machines will be added along with up-graded blackjack, poker, and bingo areas. New and improved entertainment and foodservice amenities will enhance customer visits and provide a full service gaming venue.
Tribal officials are hoping that Phase Two of the development plan will occur within the next year or two. This phase will include a 100 room hotel with amenities such as a swimming pool/fitness center, a convention center with meeting rooms, and an RV Park.
The ultimate goal of the project is to compliment the area’s current sports and tourist attractions with a full service destination resort that attracts additional visitors and economic development to the region.
Fort Randall Casino is the primary place of employment for Yankton Sioux Tribal members as well as the largest employer in Charles Mix County where the reservation is located. The casino offers slot machines, blackjack, poker, bingo, live entertainment, a gas station/convenience store, a restaurant, snack bar, gift shop, and lodging.
A loan for $9 million and a grant for $1 million was approved for the Upper Sioux Community for a casino and hotel project which will add a new wing to their hotel and enlarge gaming space at Prairie’s Edge Casino & Resort. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2010 on the development project. Close social and cultural ties have existed between the two Communities for generations. The SMSC has given the Upper Sioux Community more than $10 million in grants since 1997.
“The Upper Sioux Community would like to thank the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community for their continued support of our Nation. Through your generosity and commitment to assist other tribes, our casino/hotel project can move forward and will allow the Upper Sioux Community to better attain our financial goals, thus improving the quality of life for our Nation,” said Upper Sioux Chairman Kevin Jensvold.
The Upper Sioux Community has a tribal population of 482 on a land base of 1,440 acres near Granite Falls, Minnesota. Known as the Pejuhuatazizi Oyate, the place where yellow medicine is dug, the Upper Sioux Community owns and operates Prairies Edge Casino Resort, Prairie’s Edge Convenience Store, Prairie View RV Park & Campground, USC Propane, and the USC Telecommunication Project.
Since its formal designation as an Indian Community, Upper Sioux has struggled with poverty, substandard housing, inadequate health care, and the subtleties of racism. Tribal leaders continually strive to improve the standard of living and the quality of life on the reservation.
In recent years the SMSC has made loans to the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa ($3 million, 2006; $8 million, 2009); the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe ($3 million, 2008); the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe ($2.8 million, 1996; $3 million, 2009); Fond du Lac ($3 million, 2009); Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe ($41.5 million, 2003); Oglala Sioux Tribe ($38 million, 2005); Omaha Tribe of Nebraska ($3 million, 2008); Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians ($31 million, 2008); Rosebud Sioux Tribe ($3 million, 2006); Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate ($32 million, 1998; $5 million, 2003; $17 million, 2005; $6 million, 2008; $8 million, 2009); Standing Rock Sioux Tribe ($30 million, 2009); Stockbridge Munsee Band of Mohican Indians ($48 million, 2009); and the Upper Sioux Community ($23 million, 2001).
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