TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation is partnering with Indian Health Service to bring more than $11.8 million in safe water infrastructure and sewage upgrades to 1,400 homes across the Cherokee Nation Reservation.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Rear Adm. Travis Watts, Area Director for the Oklahoma City IHS office, met Thursday to sign and celebrate the agreement.

The funds for the projects are paid from the bi-partisan Infrastructure, Investments and Jobs Act of 2021, for tribes to ensure all American Indians and Alaska Natives have safer drinking water and adequate sewage systems in their homes.

“Our Cherokee families deserve safe drinking water and quality water treatment and sewage systems and we are still working to provide just that in all of our Cherokee communities across the reservation,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “These funds through IHS will help so many of our tribal citizens live healthier lives and prevent health problems down the road from unsafe conditions.”

It is estimated by IHS that overall water and waste water projects funded save over $259 million in costs due to a reduction in health care facility visits. Indian Health Service estimates for every $1 spent on water and sewer infrastructure it will save $1.18 in avoided direct health care costs.

“IHS is proud to partner with the Cherokee Nation and be a small piece of their longstanding history to assure that clean water is provided to Cherokee Nation citizens. Understanding that history goes way back long before IHS and its fight to work to make sure water is a public health cornerstone to citizens,” Rear Adm. Watts said.” IHS understands that clean water, education, travel and types of transportation are all things needed for social determinants of health long before anyone walks into a health center to be served. We thank the Cherokee Nation for putting these projects together.”

The Cherokee Nation will use the $11.8 million in funds – $9.37 million from IHS and $2.42 million from Cherokee Nation – for the following:

  • Adair County Rural Water District 2 waterline replacement, $326,000
  • Chelsea Wastewater Treatment Plant rehabilitation, $2.7M
  • Multi-county individual sewer, $177,000
  • Cherry Tree Rural Water District water system improvements, $1.58M
  • Chewey Road water line, $988,000
  • Marble City Lagoon rehabilitation, $575,000
  • Scattered housing Cherokee Nation new, renovated homes, $5.5 million