Tribal Affairs Banner

Funding for California Native American Tribes

The Water Boards are pleased to offer various financial programs and opportunities to assist California Native American Tribes with protecting and improving California’s waters. Funding for the loan and grant programs primarily comes from bonds passed by voters and monies provided by the federal government. Each program has its own guidelines, application process and funding cycle.

Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER)

The Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience Program (SAFER) is a set of tools, funding sources, and regulatory authorities designed to ensure that the estimated one million Californians who lack safe drinking water receive it as quickly as possible and that their water is affordable. The SAFER program also aims to supports the state’s drinking water systems with developing sustainable operations, a critical element for achieving the goals of safe, accessible, and affordable water for all Californians.

  Learn more about SAFER Funding.

Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs)

Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) are environmentally beneficial projects that are included as part of a settlement for environmental violations. Violators can voluntarily agree to undertake such projects in lieu of (up to 50%) of the penalty that they are required to pay for the violations.

  If you have a project that you would like the State to consider for listing as a SEP, please submit your SEP proposal here.

  View the Water Boards Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) policy and additional information here.

CalEPA Small EJ Small Grants Program

CalEPA Small Environmental Justice Small Grants Program offers up to $50,000 per application to assist eligible non-profit community organizations and federally recognized Tribal governments with addressing environmental justice issues in areas disproportionately affected by environmental pollution and hazard.

Grant applicants are asked to demonstrate in their applications how their projects will address one or more of the following EJ Small Grant Program goals in communities that are disproportionately affected by environmental pollution or are especially sensitive to environmental pollution due to socioeconomic factors:

  1. Distribution of information to help resolve environmental problems;
  2. Identification of improvements in communication and coordination between stakeholders and CalEPA, and its Boards, Departments, and Office (BDOs), in order to address the most significant exposure(s) to pollution;
  3. Improvement of community or tribal government understanding about environmental issues that affect its community or tribal government;
  4. Promotion of community or tribal government involvement in the decision-making process that affects the environment of the community/tribal government; and
  5. Enhancement of community/tribal government understanding of environmental information systems and environmental information.

  For additional information, including contact information visit the CalEPA Small EJ grants page. Approximately $1 million in grants are available.

Below are select project summaries of California Tribes and Tribal organizations who previously received funding from the CalEPA Small EJ Grants:

California Indian Museum and Cultural Center, $20,333, Sonoma County

The California Indian Museum and Cultural Center in Sonoma County (CIMCC) will conduct monthly, hour-long virtual workshops (web‐based and mobile) to inform California Native American Tribal members, and their descendants, on clean energy, clean air, and transportation alternatives. The workshops will include information about high-growth and living-wage clean energy careers to increase their climate change resilience. CIMCC will engage Native youth leaders and tribal elder community members as project advisors and workshop speakers.

Los Indios de San Gabriel (Kizh Nation), $47,620, Los Angeles County

Kizh Nation will promote the participation and involvement of four non-federally recognized tribal governments in an effort by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board to incorporate tribal beneficial use definitions into their triennial review basin planning efforts. The Kizh Nation will lead the compilation of tribal information on traditional activities including subsistence fishing and traditional cultural uses of water bodies in the board’s jurisdiction. The Kizh Nation will develop a traditional use survey and collect information via phone and online, host online conference meetings, and make site reconnaissance visits. This information can be used to assess toxin exposure at these locations and establish numerical water quality objectives in the basin planning process. The Kizh Nation will help document culturally significant waterbodies to promote the reconciliation and reconnection of the tribes to inland surface waters, enclosed bays, and estuaries in their traditional ancestral territories.

Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association, $50,000, San Diego County

The Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association (SCTCA) will identify the watersheds within in the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board’s jurisdiction  where Native American cultural uses are occurring and where appropriate water quality standards are needed to ensure vulnerable populations are protected. The grant will fund a project to improve the quality of water in areas of traditional harvest through identification of culturally sensitive areas in the San Diego watershed. The SCTCA will also work with traditional practitioners to highlight ecological benefits of traditional environmental management. The project will use Geographical Positioning Systems to identify the locations of cultural resource areas subject to current, past or potential future utilization. Geographical Information Systems will be used to categorize and delineate the areas and inform the basin planning process.

The Cahto Tribe of Laytonville Rancheria, $30,000, Mendocino County, in partnership with nearby community residents, will further investigate and research Mendocino County’s landfill in Laytonville (Laytonville Landfill). The Laytonville Landfill is bordered on the north by Branscomb Road and on the east and south by the Laytonville Rancheria. The Laytonville Landfill began operation in 1967, closed in September 1993, and was capped in 1997. This project will further investigate and provide a response to tribal concerns regarding potential contaminant exposure to the Cahto Tribe and the surrounding environment as a result of contaminant sources originating at the Laytonville Landfill. The Cahto Tribe will conduct water quality monitoring and sampling, identify the types of illnesses, diseases, and their relationship with known contamination sites, identify public health concerns and/or threats, conduct education and outreach on the Laytonville Landfill contamination, and will host three community meetings.

  For more information on previously awarded projects please visit: Previously Awarded Environmental Justice Small Grants 2005-2020 Summaries