Category Archives: Water And Sanitation

4/27/2012 Statement of Leonard Benally to Mr. James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, OHCHR

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4/27/2012 Statement of Norris Nez, Hathalie (Medicine Man) to Mr. James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, OHCHR

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4/27/2012 Statement of Marlene Benally to Mr. James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, OHCHR

4 24 2012_Marlene Benally_Speaker FP_Land & Resources_to Special Rapporteur James Anaya

4/27/2012 Statement of Mary Lane to Mr. James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, OHCHR

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11/8/2011 FP congratulates Robert Sabie, WWU – EPA Announces Winners of Apps for the Environment Challenge

Forgotten People congratulates Robert Sabie, Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University.  11/8/2011 EPA Announces Winners of Apps for the Environment Challenge WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the winners of its Apps for the Environment challenge, which encouraged new and innovative uses of EPA’s data to create apps that address environmental and public health issues.  Developers from across the country created apps with information about everything from energy efficient light bulbs to local air quality. A few even developed games to help people learn environmental facts.

“Innovators from across the country have used information to help people protect our health and the environment,” said Malcolm Jackson, EPA’s Chief Information Officer. “The winners of the Apps for the Environment challenge demonstrate that it’s possible to transform data from EPA and elsewhere into applications that people can use.”

The five winners are:

·      Winner, Best Overall App: Light Bulb Finder by Adam Borut and Andrea Nylund of EcoHatchery, Milwaukee, Wis.

  • Runner Up, Best Overall App: Hootroot by Matthew Kling of Brighter Planet, Shelburne, Vt.
  • Winner, Best Student App: EarthFriend by Ali Hasan and Will Fry of Differential Apps and Fry Development Company, Mount Pleasant High School in Mount Pleasant, N.C. and J.H. Rose High School in Greenville, N.C.
  • Runner Up, Best Student App: Environmental Justice Participatory Mapping by Robert Sabie, Jr. of Western Washington University, Bellingham, Wash.
  • Popular Choice Award: CG Search by Suresh Ganesan of Cognizant Technology Solutions, South Plainfield, N.J.

Winners will demonstrate their submissions at the Apps for the Environment forum today in Arlington, Va. The forum will include panels on business, technology, and government initiatives, breakout sessions by EPA’s program offices, upcoming developer challenges and future directions about environmental applications.

All contestants will retain intellectual property rights over their submissions, though winners agree that their submissions will be available on the EPA website for free use and download by the public for a period of one year following the announcement of the winners.

More information about the winners and other submissions:

More information about EPA’s Apps for the Environment forum:


Latisha Petteway (News Media Only)



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10/12/2011 Navajo Hopi Observer: Water contamination threatens Hopi Partitioned Land

Photo: A picture taken near Black Mesa, Ariz., part of the Hopi Paritioned Land 10/12/2011 Navajo Hopi Observer: Water contamination threatens Hopi Partitioned Land: In response to the recent discovery of water contamination on Hopi Partitioned Lands (HPL), the Hopi Tribe’s Office of Range Management has capped several water wells and fenced off windmills as a public safety measure, including some used by trespassing Navajo tribal members who have not signed Accommodations Agreements (AA) to reside on HPL. Water contamination was among the issues discussed earlier this month during a Navajo AA Permittees meeting held on HPL on behalf of the Navajos who have signed a 75-year AA. These AA Navajo families legally reside on HPL with grazing permits recognized by the Hopi Tribe.

“Many of the issues they’re having on not only HPL, but the Navajo Partitioned Lands (NPL), are because Navajos who have not signed the Accommodation Agreement are illegally trespassing, cutting fences and bringing in their own livestock in the middle of the night,” said Hopi Tribal Councilman Cedric Kuwaninvaya, from the village of Sipaulovi and chairman of the Hopi Land Team. “One would expect this to be a problem of Navajos against the Hopi, but it’s not; it’s Navajos against Navajos.”

Present at the Navajo AA Permittees on HPL meeting, Councilman Kuwaninvaya said he had the opportunity to speak and asked if there were any delegates from the Navajo Nation [government] at the meeting and the answer was none. “Only one representative from the Navajo grazing committee from the area was present and no one representing the Navajo Nation Council. I would have liked to have seen one of their representatives, as we have issues on both the HPL and NPL sides that we need to address as tribal governments.”

Though Navajo permittees have signed an AA, some may still require assistance from their own Navajo Nation government.

“The safety of anyone on Hopi land, not just Navajo and Hopi people, is of utmost importance to us,” said Clayton Honyumptewa, Director of Hopi Department of Natural Resources. “The capping of water wells on the HPL was due to the fact that they were contaminated with uranium and arsenic, an obvious threat to anyone who was to drink it.”

“Our Windmill Crew will actively work to repair broken or malfunctioning windmills on the HPL,” he said. “We continue to work in keeping the lands, water wells and windmills as originally intended and urge those whose lands are being infringed upon to notify us of any wrongdoings and repairs needed.”

The meeting was sponsored by the Hopi Tribe’s Office of Range Management and was attended by the Hopi windmill repair crews, Office of Hopi Lands, Hopi Resource Enforcement Services and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, in addition to the Navajo-Hopi Relocation Commission, Councilman Kuwaninvaya and a staff member from the Hopi Chairman’s office.

About Hopi Partitioned Lands:

The U.S. Congress partitioned the disputed 1882 Executive Order Hopi Reservation in a 1974 Congressional Act with parcels given to Navajo and Hopi Tribes resulting in the forced relocation of both Hopi and Navajo families. Forty-nine Navajo families signed a 75-year Accommodation Agreement to reside on HPL and all Hopi families voluntarily relocated from said disputed lands. Meanwhile several Navajo families continue resisting relocation from HPL to this day. The Hopi Tribe is working to restore the HPL with guidance from Hopi stewardship values and practices.

10/8/2011 Gallup Independent: Udall urges continued cleanup of area's legacy uranium sites

10/8/2011 Udall urges continued cleanup of area’s legacy uranium sites By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau, Gallup Independent: WINDOW ROCK – U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., received commitments Thursday from three federal agencies that they will continue to work together to clean up uranium contamination on the Navajo Nation. Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Energy, and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission testified on the status of cleanup operations at legacy uranium mining and milling operations. The testimony was presented during a federal oversight hearing before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Children’s Health and Environmental Responsibility, which Udall chairs. The senator stressed that each agency continue ongoing cleanup projects and commit to providing necessary funding for the Five-Year Plan for the Navajo Nation begun in 2007 and a Five-Year Plan begun last year for the Grants Mining District.

“Recently, the Navajo Nation informed EPA that they intend to request a second five-year review plan,” James Woolford, director of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation, said. “The agency plans to work with the Navajo Nation and our colleagues to put together that plan over the next year.” EPA is the lead federal agency for the cleanup plan.

EPA has been obligating about $12 million per year for Navajo cleanup efforts. However, the federal government is operating under a continuing resolution so EPA cannot commit to a particular figure for the upcoming year, he said.

David Geiser, director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Legacy Management, said DOE contributes about $4 million for the four legacy uranium mill sites it monitors on Navajo. In 2009, DOE received a $5 million special appropriation for cleanup of the Highway 160 site outside of Tuba City. That work was completed in August, he said.

Udall applauded EPA for its recent announcement of an approved plan to clean up the Northeast Churchrock Mine, the highest-priority abandoned uranium mine on the Navajo Nation, and also raised concerns about Tuba City contamination.

“Since 1995 there have been more than 35 studies conducted on the Tuba City Open Dump,” Udall said. He asked whether they knew the source of contamination or whether there was a cleanup plan.

Woolford said the Hopi Tribe submitted a study to EPA in August which concluded there was groundwater contamination adjacent to the dump. “We’re currently reviewing it and we have plans to meet with the tribe at the end of October to go over the study.”

He said EPA has an enforceable agreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to conduct a comprehensive investigation and feasibility study to ascertain whether the dump is contaminating the groundwater. “The groundwater is contaminated. Everyone knows that. We are not 100 percent sure of the source,” he said.

“Does the Tuba City Open Dump site pose a threat to drinking water for the Navajo Nation or the Hopi Tribe?” Udall asked.

“Yes, we believe it does,” Woolford said, however a cleanup remedy is contingent on the outcome of the BIA study.

Geiser said both Navajo and Hopi believe mill tailing material was disposed of in the open dump and that it is the source of the uranium contamination, but he said there is no evidence to support that claim. “There have been over 200 borings taken of the open dump, and none of them found mill material,” he said.

DOE also doesn’t believe there is a hydrological connection between the Tuba City uranium mill tailings disposal cell and the Moenkopi village wells, Geiser said.

Udall asked for further details on the Northeast Churchrock cleanup and a potential time-line. Woolford said they ultimately chose “a pretty simple remedy,” which is to move more than 870,000 cubic yards of contaminated waste rock and more than 100,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil “almost across the street” to the United Nuclear Corp./General Electric Superfund site.

Beginning this fall, community members will be offered relocation opportunities, according to Woolford. Clancy Tenley of EPA Region 9 said Monday that residents could take a temporary move-out of their house during the cleanup, “but that would be in a hotel for potentially years,” or they could take advantage of an EPA “cash-out” offer for a permanent residence of comparable value.

Geiser said EPA approached DOE about two years ago with the idea of combining mine waste with the mill waste. “For the last 10 to 12 years, the department has agreed to accept non-mill waste in the disposal cells under certain conditions,” he said. Northeast Churchrock would be the “single largest volume” of that type material to be put in a disposal cell.

NRC’s Weber said they will prepare an environmental assessment to support a revision to the reclamation plan for UNC’s tailings impoundment and there will be opportunity for public comment on the UNC license amendment. Barring any legal challenges or glitches, cleanup could be done by 2018 or 2019 with DOE’s Legacy Management as the ultimate overseer.

Vote for Forgotten People Environmental Justice Participatory Mapping

Vote for Forgotten People Environmental Justice Participatory Mapping: About the submission: The online map developed in this project uses data from the EPA 2007 Abandon Uranium Mines and the Navajo Nation: Atlas with Geospatial Data to give citizens access to basic information on unregulated water sources and abandoned uranium mine features. The map also provides citizens with the basic tools to visulize the spatial elements of potential environmental hazards.

Environmental Justice is a relatively new field for environmental advocacy. One the many attributes that is illustrative of environmental injustice is proximity to pollution. Developments in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the gathering of spatial data have furthered the implications of environmental justice. The GIS technical expertise is not always available to grassroots organizations and thus the spatial nexus is sometimes missing in the struggle for justice. This project was designed to assist the Navajo grassroots organization The Forgotten People in both policy development and participatory mapping.

Why Governments Are on the Hook to Ensure Clean, Safe Water for Everyone: The right to water and sanitation are living documents waiting to be used for transformational change around the world

7/28/2011 Alternet: Why Governments Are on the Hook to Ensure Clean, Safe Water for Everyone: The right to water and sanitation are living documents waiting to be used for transformational change around the world: One year ago today, the United Nations General Assembly adopted an historic resolution recognizing the human right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation. Two months later, the Human Rights Council adopted a second resolution affirming that drinking water and sanitation are human rights, and setting out the new obligations and responsibilities all governments now carry to develop appropriate tools and mechanisms to progressively achieve the full realization of these rights. Together the two resolutions represent an extraordinary breakthrough in the international struggle for the right to safe clean drinking water and sanitation and a crucial milestone in the fight for water justice.

The struggle to achieve this milestone was a long one and blocked for years by some powerful corporations and governments who prefer to view water as a private commodity to be put on the open market for sale. Indeed, forty-one countries, including the U.K., Australia, Japan, Canada and the U.S., abstained in the General Assembly vote. (However, in a welcome and surprise move, the U.S. voted in favour of the Human Rights Council’s resolution.) Some of these governments insist that they are still under no new obligations in this area, as they claim the General Assembly vote was not binding. This is incorrect. Because the Human Rights Council resolution is an interpretation of two exiting international treaties, it clarifies that the resolution adopted by the General Assembly is legally binding in international law. Said an official UN press release, “The right to water and sanitation is a human right, equal to all other human rights, which implies that it is justiciable and enforceable.”

This means that whether or not they voted for the right to water and sanitation, every member state of the United Nations is now required to prepare a Plan of Action for the Realization of the Right to Water and Sanitation and to report to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on its performance in this area. This plan of action must meet three obligations: the Obligation to Respect, whereby the state must refrain from any action or policy that interferes with these rights, such as removing water and wastewater services because of an inability to pay as has happened in inner city Detroit and Boston; the Obligation to Protect, whereby the state is obliged to prevent third parties from interfering with these rights, such as protecting local communities from industrial pollution and inequitable extraction of water; and the Obligation to Fulfil, whereby the state is required to adopt any additional measures directed toward the realization of these rights, such as providing water and sanitation services to communities currently without them. In the U.S., this would include the 13 percent of Native American households without access to clean water and sanitation.

Lack of access to clean water and sanitation is the number one killer of children in our world. A new report on diarrhea by the World Health Organization says that in the global South, a child dies every three and a half seconds of water-borne diseases. In every case, if their parents could pay for clean water, these children would not be dying. While the resolutions recognizing the human right to water and sanitation will not immediately resolve this travesty, they do set the stage for a plan of action to address it. All countries now have the obligation to ensure, in a progressive manner and within available resources, that all of their people have access to water and sanitation services and special attention is to be paid to the most vulnerable and marginalized groups.

And while not specifically prohibiting private water delivery, the resolutions make it clear that the state retains the responsibility and authority to provide these services and can step in to prevent cut-offs to the poor or the charging of exorbitant water rates by for-profit providers. Clearly, in recognizing the human right to water and sanitation, the United Nations has endorsed the notion that water is a public trust best delivered on a not-for-profit basis.

The first anniversary of this historic General Assembly resolution presents an incredible opportunity for groups and communities around the world suffering from water shortages, unsafe drinking water and poor or non-existent sanitation services. It is not often that a new right is recognized at the United Nations, especially around an issue as increasingly political and urgent as the global water crisis. The right to water and sanitation are living documents waiting to be used for transformational change around the world.

Maude Barlow chairs the board of both Ottawa-based Council of Canadians and Washington-based Food and Water Watch. She served as the Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the UN General Assembly.

8/11/2011 Water for People: One Year Anniversary: Water Declared Human Right

8/11/2011 Water for People: One Year Anniversary: Water Declared Human Right: As the United Nations celebrates the one year anniversary (August 3, 2011) of their declaration of water as a basic human right, the debate continues over what exactly that phrase means. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon triggered controversy with this statement: “Let us be clear,” he asserted, “a right to water and sanitation does not mean that water should be free.” The key, he continued, is to make water affordable and available, but not to remove the market entirely.

If the rich pay less per unit of water than the poor, this is a violation of the poor’s human right to water. If water is used to fill swimming pools to the extent that it is no longer available, or the cost increases too high, for the poor to have access, this is a violation of their human right to water. But, declaring water a human right does not declare it cost-free.

Thalif Deen’s article marking the 1 year anniversary provides a clear overview of the debate between the need for increased water access for the poor, and the benefits and challenges of continuing water privatization. Access it here.

One year ago, following the UN declaration, CEO of Water For People Ned Breslin spoke with Rachel Cernansky of Planet to answer the question: What does making water a basic human right mean in practicality? In response to whether or not making water free will guarantee the right Mr. Breslin replied:

“The concept of free access to water undermines issues of sustainability. ‘Rights will only be realized if the delivery of water is sustained over time. Otherwise it’s a meaningless right,’ Breslin said, adding that the world’s experience with free water has been disastrous because pipes erode, systems break down, and no one is there to fix them. Whether there will or should be a cap on costs for citizens in developing countries (or anywhere) is a question that has to be worked out, but generally speaking, costs have to be ‘linked’ to the technologies that are supplying the water.”
Read the full article with more analysis from Water For People here.