One of the barriers to sustainability for tribal water systems is lack of financial capacity, including a clear understanding of routine operations and maintenance costs. The Tribal Infrastructure Task Force, an inter-agency federal workgroup, is preparing to release a methodology report based on a two-year pilot study of nine American Indian and Alaska Native Village (AI/ANV) utilities.
The report will outline how data could be collected on a national basis to improve "understanding of the operation and maintenance costs necessary to ensure critical infrastructure funding decisions are made." The intention is to implement these recommendations in a full scale assessment that will require widespread participation of tribal utilities.
Tribes can be proactive for potential later participation - but primarily for their own benefit - by getting organized now. EPA has a variety of resources to help water systems with financial management. One first step would be to complete the financial worksheet on pages 13-14 of this "getting started" guide.