Past Projects

Project Coyote Water

Project Coyote Water is a collaboration between the Tribal Water Center (TWC) and the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Health Studies Branch. The primary goal of this project is to develop and organize data, information, and knowledge about the current regulatory status, conditions, and use of unregulated water sources on Tribal lands across the United States. The data collected will help to describe use of unregulated drinking water sources in order to identify regions that may be at higher risk for exposure to contaminants. It will also identify water-related issues of greatest concern to Tribes. The results of the project will provide information to guide potential future monitoring or funding opportunities.

Project Coyote Water Info Sheet

“Our Water” Toolkit

Through the support of the Indian Health Service, the TWC developed a toolkit of teaching materials and techniques for homeowners and communities to improve use and support of drinking water systems in a way that promotes health. The Our Water Toolkit is a collection of education and action planning activities created to ensure sustainable access to safe water and maximize health benefits. Customers, utility operations, and local leadership are the three main audiences of the toolkit. The draft toolkit is now online and we are accepting comments and suggestions until May 31, 2017. The toolkit can be viewed online at

Spokane Water Monitoring Project

In 2012, a number of wells were found to exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum contaminant levels for uranium and/or overall radioactivity in drinking water. Following these findings, filters were put in place in the affected homes. TWC and the CDC partnered with Spokane Tribe Department of Natural Resources to evaluate filter efficacy, test previously untested wells, assess seasonal contaminant levels in wells that had previously tested near, but below maximum contaminant levels, and test for additional contaminants. The data collected throughout this project will inform well filtration decisions as well as planning for future housing development.

Water is Life

Water is Life is a collaborative outreach program that centers local culture in the quest to improve sustainable access to safe water. Through the project, art rooted in local culture serves to create the momentum needed to engage community members in water centered education. This begins with a community visioning meeting where all are invited to share thoughts, stories, photos and songs representing local ties to water. As the artist and support crew create the main mural, water-focused, culture-based activities including a photo competition, water bingo, a youth mural project and collaboration between youth and elders will be offered to community members. Together, the mural and activities leverage the tremendous cultural assets held by the community to provide the education needed to address local barriers to water system sustainability.

TWC is currently developing a curriculum to guide interested local leaders in carrying out this type of outreach in their own community. The Water is Life project is funded by the CDC, IHS, and private foundations.

Water is Life Curriculum

Health Promotion: Project Merrunaqlluni

Project Merrunaqlluni’s design was based on findings gleaned from a qualitative study
conducted in four rural Southwest villages during which viable avenues for social-ecological change at the individual and environmental (social, built, and policy) levels were identified. Self-reported survey data revealed that from pre- to post-intervention, the proportion of households drinking mostly treated water increased by 21% (39% to 60%), p < 0.0001. Elements of Project Merrunaqlluni (e.g. Water BINGO) have since been adapted to meet the unique education and promotion needs in other communities.

Technology Improvement: Kivalina

The TWC will work with a team to evaluate innovative decentralized solutions to providing water and sewer in homes in a community that is not able to receive piped water in the home. The evaluation will use a mixed methods approach, collecting both quantitative and qualitative data elements to assess the change in water use, the adequacy and appropriateness of design, and the mechanical reliability of the infrastructure.

Advanced Engineering: Fort Belknap

Our approach to these types of projects is to find and implement the simplest and most cost-effective solution that will allow the delivery of safe and aesthetically pleasing water to the consumers. We believe in recommending approaches that will allow the most accurate evaluation of the specific issues and formulate a solution that is tailored to the community needs.

Health Research: Impact of in-home water service on the rates of Infectious Diseases: Results from Four Communities in Western Alaska:

TWC partnered with others, including ANTHC’s Community Health Services and the CDC’s Arctic Investigation Program, to assess rates of water-related infections in residents of communities transitioning to in-home piped water. Households that must haul water are severely limited in the amount of water available for personal use beyond drinking and cooking. We demonstrated significant declines in respiratory, skin, and gastrointestinal infection rates among individuals using increased quantities of water after transitioning from hauling water to in-home piped water. This study reinforces the importance of adequate quantities of water for hand washing, bathing, and laundry in order to address the morbidity caused by water-washed infections.