Linderman Dam
Work took place on a dam safety and restoration project downstream from the Dam in Idaho in 2021. Photo: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Bureau of Indian Affairs invests $29 million in dam safety program
Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Indianz.Com

The Biden administration is investing $29 million in infrastructure funds on dam safety in Indian Country.

According to the Department of the Interior, the funding will address known safety deficiencies at dams in Arizona, Montana and South Dakota. The money is coming from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“Through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are making critical infrastructure investments in Tribal communities across the country,” Secretary Deb Haaland said in a news release on Wednesday. “In addition to the resources we have allocated for irrigation power systems and water sanitation systems in Indian Country, today’s announcement will further safeguard tribal water supplies, supporting families and communities. This is yet another step in the Biden-Harris administration’s effort to put investments into communities that need them most.”

The $29 million will be spent at the following locations in fiscal year 2022:

  • A1, Bootleg, Cooley and Davis Dams, Fort Apache Reservation, Arizona
  • Willow Creek Dam, Crow Reservation, Montana
  • Allen Dam, Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota
  • Oglala Dam, Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota

“Maintenance and repairs on our dams have been postponed for many years, leading to deferred maintenance costs of more than a billion dollars,” said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “This important funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is an important step to addressing these problems, which will make communities safer and provide additional water for irrigation and other purposes.” 

According to the news release, Interior will invest a total of $150 million over the next five years to address safety deficiencies at dams in Indian Country. The BIA plans to prioritize projects that reduce deferred maintenance and the risk of failure, according to information presented at tribal consultation sessions that took place in January.

“The dam safety program will prioritize projects identified as presenting unacceptable life safety risk to downstream residents and plan for design and construction of remediation modifications,” Newland said at the January 26 session, according to a transcript posted on bia.gov.

Overall, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (H.R.3684) invests more $13 billion for a wide range of initiatives in Indian Country. Of this amount, the BIA has received $466 million to address irrigation, power systems, dam safety and water sanitation programs and to support climate resiliency efforts. Another $2.5 billion will be used to implement tribal water rights settlements.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Investments for Dam Safety Programs in Tribal Communities

The following is the text of a May 18, 2022, news release from the Department of the Interior.

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today announced $29 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to invest in Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) Irrigation, Power, and Safety of Dams programs.

President Biden’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests more than $13 billion directly to Tribal communities across the country. Today’s announcement includes funding to repair the Oglala Dam in South Dakota, and develop designs for six other dams that currently exceed safety guidelines. This is the first allotment of approximately $150 million the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will invest over the next five years to address safety deficiencies at dams.

“Through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are making critical infrastructure investments in Tribal communities across the country,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “In addition to the resources we have allocated for irrigation power systems and water sanitation systems in Indian Country, today’s announcement will further safeguard Tribal water supplies, supporting families and communities. This is yet another step in the Biden-Harris administration’s effort to put investments into communities that need them most.”

“Maintenance and repairs on our dams have been postponed for many years, leading to deferred maintenance costs of more than a billion dollars,” said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “This important funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is an important step to addressing these problems, which will make communities safer and provide additional water for irrigation and other purposes.” 

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Fiscal Year 2022 investments will fund designs and construction projects to address known dam safety deficiencies at the following locations:

A1, Bootleg, Cooley and Davis Dams, Fort Apache Reservation, Arizona
Willow Creek Dam, Crow Reservation, Montana
Allen Dam, Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota
Oglala Dam, Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota

Assistant Secretary Newland and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Wizipan Garriott will highlight today’s announcement while visiting the Oglala Dam. The reservoir formed by Oglala Dam was drained in 2019 to protect communities downstream following flood damage that compromised the spillway and outlet works. The project will address these damages at a cost of more than $20 million. Upon completion in 2026, this work will restore an important local water supply for the Pine Ridge community.

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