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Pine Ridge Reservation: Solving Critical Water Issues

Category: Natural Resources

The population of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota possesses one the highest cancer clusters among Native Americans and the United States at large. Metal contamination from well water is suspected to be a major contributor. This project will develop an understanding of the broader scale hydrology, aquifer chemistry, and geology across 2 burrows within the reservation to determine the extent of metal contamination.

Previous water analyses were focused near the city or the piped rural water project, rural wells and aquifers have not been characterized. Very little information is accessible to the tribal members so they have reached out to us to help them. We are a small non profit that requires 100% grant funding for our projects.

The elemental water analyses are $65 a sample, radioactive gamma ray analyses are $500 a sample plus shipping. Previously only spotty sampling has been conducted. Phase I will analyze water quality in 2 burrows and develop a map of the aquifers and artesian wells across the reservation.

Our program is working will all the active groups that are concerned about water quality. This united effort will provide an overall sampling strategy, GIS mapping of the data, and hydrological mapping to understand water quality across the reservation. This project is Phase I of five phases that will quantify water quality across the entire reservation.

Linda has worked on hydrogeology and arsenic mitigation in Nepal for 12 years. Members of the Harvey White Woman Cancer Support group and Defenders of the Black Hills Pine Ridge Reservation asked her to help with the water problems on the reservation. She observed that several members of a family died of cancer or were in treatment. The members also expressed concern for their children who are drinking the water. How could I refuse? My heart was touched by their passion and critical water problems. (Activities hiking, SCUBA, gardening)

raj pandya subscriber