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Struggling with drought, Yurok Tribe receives $20K grant to mitigate potable water shortage

The tribe recently had to tell 100 residents to boil their water for the foreseeable future due to issues with the Klamath Community Services District’s water storage tank, which serves the small, rural community.

Posted: Aug 12, 2021 3:14 PM

KLAMATH, Calif. — Northern California's Yurok Tribe will have more resources to fight an ongoing shortage of potable water after receiving a $20,000 rapid response grant from the Humboldt Area Foundation and Wild Rivers Community Foundation.

Like much of the region, the Yurok Tribe's land is in a particularly acute drought this year. The tribe recently had to tell 100 residents to boil their water for the foreseeable future due to issues with the Klamath Community Services District’s water storage tank, which serves the small, rural community.

“This is a humanitarian crisis — children and families are without water,” said Lindsie Bear, vice president of strategy, program and community solutions for HAF and WRCF. “The safety of our neighbors should always be our highest priority as we face drought, fires, and the pandemic together. The Yurok Tribe has shown extraordinary leadership around safety through all of these disasters, as have all of our surrounding Tribal Nations. We are grateful to them for keeping community well-being at the forefront of their agenda, and are continually honored to support their efforts.”

Since reaching a crisis point with potable water, the Yurok Tribe has worked to stockpile emergency supplies, distribute high-quality water filters for kitchen sink faucets, and sought and received donated bottles of water for affected residents.

“We have employed a proactive approach to addressing this year’s drought, and I am so glad we did because we are able to help the community get through this challenge,” said Yurok Tribe Chairman Joseph L. James.

But the reliance on thousands of water bottles means that the Tribe now has a new problem — how to recycle them.

The Tribe says it has a small team of volunteers that oversees the unofficial recycling services, but “the collection of those water bottles, recycling of them and management of the impact of those plastic bottles is a new problem we lack resources to fully address,” James continued.

The $20,000 grant is intended to help address both the potable water shortage and the recycling issue. WRCF and HAF said in a statement that it is also intended to help the Tribe leverage larger philanthropic support, with a goal of $1 million, to more permanently solve the water supply issues. 

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