Tribal Members Involvement in Safe Drinking Water on Tribal Lands

Community Right to Know

It is your right to know if your public water system is providing you with safe drinking water. This means that the water meets National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWRs) under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).

If your receive water year-round from the same community water system, the utility is required to provide a Consumer Confidence Report. This report is also known as an annual water quality report or a drinking water quality report.

The public water system must issue a public notification if:

  • There is a violation of federal drinking water standards; and, or
  • There is a drinking water emergency.

It is important to attend outreach events by your tribal utility or tribal leaders concerning the status of your public water system. This way, tribal members are informed about their water systems.

Public Notification

The tribal utility is required to notify the community of problems with their drinking water that may pose a risk to public health.

Public Notification is required:

  • Whenever the system is in violation with any of the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations;
  • The system fails to test its water;
  • If the system has been granted a variance or an exemption; or
  • When there is an emergency affecting the drinking water posing a risk to public health.

In addition, utilities serving community water systems must issue annual Consumer Confidence Reports of the status of their water quality.

Public notifications should also identify the roles and responsibilities between the:

  • Tribal leader or system owner;
  • Utility board; and
  • Utility staff regardless of whether or not an independent utility board is established.

The community has the right to know:

  • Who is responsible for the system; and
  • What happens when there is a violation or other problem that affects the drinking water.

Talking to Your Customers About Chronic Contaminants in Drinking Water: A Best Practices Guide (PDF)(2 pp, 356 K, About PDF)- provides a summary about the dangers of chronic contaminants and how water systems protect against contamination.

What You Can Do?

As a community member, you can be aware of the condition and operation of your water system. Equally important is to be aware of system health warnings and emergencies.

Contact the utility if you have questions about the drinking water system that serves your home or business. Contact information can be found on billing statements, the organization’s website, or ask your tribal government.

Tribal Resources

Tribal Resource Directory – Search for federal and non-federal funding & assistance for drinking water & wastewater systems.

Tribal Contacts – Search for national and regional program managers and other tribal organizations.