This time of year, I love any chance to get outside between the winter rains and enjoy the Gorge and other natural wonders we're blessed with here. Today, March 22, is World Water Day. Many of us take the idea of regular access to ample, fresh clean water for granted in the Pacific Northwest, but we shouldn't.
This past weekend an electrical fire knocked the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs' water treatment plant offline. Chico Holliday, general manager of the Tribes' Branch of Public Utilities, is optimistic that they will be able to get systems up and running this week, but the full damage from the fire is still being assessed. An estimated 200 homes have already lost access to drinking water.
Restoring regular, reliable access to safe, drinkable water at Warm Springs will not be a quick fix. But there's a way we can all help today. For World Water Day, our partners at the Warm Springs Community Action Team have released a new video detailing community-led efforts to build reliance to water insecurity on the reservation.
According to recently released research, nearly 75% of the Pacific Northwest is in some level of drought and much of the West may be entering a prolonged state of severe drought driven in part by climate change. We must work together to weather these changes.
Since 2020 Friends has been working with Seeding Justice, Warm Springs Community Action Team, and other leading Pacific Northwest conservation organizations to help the people of Warm Springs Tribes restore their access and infrastructure for clean water.
We'd ask you to watch the video and consider sharing the video or making a donation to the Chúush Fund—an inventive community financing tool managed by Seeding Justice that allows both the public and institutional funders alike to directly assist the people of Warm Springs in confronting this crisis.
Last week I had a chance to take a walk while out in the central Gorge for some meetings. With the snow on the top of Table Mountain and muddy trails everywhere, water seems abundant. Yet, for many on the Warm Springs reservation rolling water outages and "boil water" notices have become all too common.
Access to clean drinking water is essential to healthy, vibrant communities, and is a basic human right that all should equally enjoy. And by working creatively and collectively, we can help the people of Warm Springs Tribes restore their access to and infrastructure for clean water.