Nebraska Legislature Approves Funding to Address Santee Sioux Water Crisis

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Written By Michael Hack

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The Santee Sioux Nation in northern Nebraska has not been able to drink their tap water for five years because the Environmental Protection Agency found high levels of manganese in their water supply.

Earlier this year, a bill that proposed giving $10 million to improve water infrastructure for tribal communities in Nebraska did not pass in the Nebraska Legislature.

But then, Senator Anna Wishart added a rule to another budget bill. This rule made sure that places with no-drink orders would get priority for grants to fix their water infrastructure. This bill passed, allowing the Santee Sioux Nation to apply for up to $20 million from the Water Sustainability Fund.

Santee Sioux Vice Chairman Kameron Runnels said he was pleasantly surprised by the state’s help.

“We were pretty doubtful about getting any support from the state,” he said. “So, when they approved this, it gave us another funding option, just in case we don’t get other funds we’re trying for.”

The money will help fund a $53 million project that will connect the reservation’s water supply to the Randall Community Water District in South Dakota by building a pipeline across the Missouri River.

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