Well closures reduce groundwater contamination in Native American Communities
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 has awarded $30,000 to the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation to increase community stakeholder awareness of drinking water problems, hazards, exposure, illness and performance gaps through establishing an abandoned well-closure pilot program.
The funding to the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation comes from EPA’s Environmental Justice Small Grants (EJSG) Program, which provides critical support to organizations that otherwise lack the funding and resources to address the environmental challenges in their community. The program is designed to help communities understand and address their exposure to multiple environmental harms and risks. Understanding the impacts of multiple environmental risks can help communities develop more effective solutions to their environmental and health concerns. The long-term goals of the EJSG Program are to help build the capacity of the affected community and create self-sustaining, community-based partnerships that will continue to improve local environments in the future.
Through its “Reducing Drinking Water Contamination Through Well Closures” project, the tribe seeks to reduce health risks associated with contaminated groundwater, as contaminated water from abandoned wells leaches into groundwater. The program aims to engage approximately 580 local households through outreach and community events; establish well-closure procedures and tribal ordinances for the purposes of protecting groundwater resources and the health and safety of those utilizing groundwater for their domestic and agricultural needs; and close multiple wells in the initial phase of the program.
Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.