Paul Iron Cloud of Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing saw the need to upgrade water, sewer, and solid waste infrastructure to be able to build more housing and provide healthy water to the tenants. Pope Means saw the need to have a system to operate and maintain the water systems on the Reservation after Mni Wiconi was complete. He also remembered that the Mni Wiconi law had a goal of upgrading all community water systems on the Reservation and transferring them in trust to the Bureau of Reclamation to subsidize operation and maintenance.
Key issues were:
- Aging water and sewer infrastructure
- Lack of proper maintenance
- Lack of resources for planning, replacement, and improvement
- Need for tribal subsidies for water, wastewater and solid waste
- Problems with the Environmental Protection Agency
- Lack of infrastructure for housing and economic development
We worked with the Oglala Sioux Tribe to remedy the problems in terms of water, wastewater, and solid waste. We secured a Bush Foundation Innovation Grant to develop an entity to oversee OST Water, Wastewater, and Solid Waste planning, development, operation, and maintenance.
- Obtained designation as a Promise Zone in 2015 which opened the door to Federal assistance from many agencies
- Obtained USDA WEP grant for Wounded Knee repair and expansion
- Obtained USDA SEARCH grant to do the pre-engineering report for Red Shirt lagoon renovation
- Began the 7 Years for 7 Generations effort to upgrade all community water systems. Used Mni Wiconi $1,499,300 for 3 communities, obtained USDA grants of $8,234,000 to fund 7 more communities and submitted USDA proposals to obtain $23,332,339 for 8 more communities including $15,000,000 for Pine Ridge Village.
- Obtained $240,000 EDA grant for Pre-engineering Reports for wastewater upgrade for 6 communities.
- Obtained grants to upgrade the OST Solid Waste program including a comprehensive plan, equipment, expansion, and construction of an operations building at Red Shirt landfill.
- Studied other Tribes and towns infrastructure management systems.
- Researched water, wastewater, and solid waste rates.
- Looked at OST ordinances, resolutions, charters, etc.
- Held many meetings over the 3 years with Tribal representatives, programs, Federal programs and reservation residents.