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To provide safe drinking water, adequate wastewater treatment, and solid waste disposal facilities to California Indian homes and communities. 


DSFC is responsible for developing and maintaining an inventory of sanitation deficiencies of Indian homes and commu­nities. The inventory of sanitation facili-ties needs is maintained in the IHS Sanita-tion Deficiency System (SDS). The SDS is updated annually by IHS personnel, with tribal input, and is available on-line under the Sanitation Tracking and Reporting System at 

Project Funding 

The DSFC annually funds a wide variety of community and individual housing projects. Projects may be managed by the IHS directly or they may be managed by a tribe that has elected to use Title I or Title V authorization under P.L. 93-638. In recent years, project types have included: 

  • Housing: provide sanitation facilities for new homes and homes in “like new” condition. These projects typically serve Indian homes being constructed or rehabilitated by funding provided through the Bureau of Indian Affairs Home Improvement Program or Department of Housing and Urban Development (DHUD) block grants;
  • Regular: provide sanitation facilities for existing Indian homes and communities;
  • Special: Operation and Maintenance studies, training, or other needs related to sanitation facilities construction; and,
  • Emergency: provide sanitation facilities to correct imminent health threats caused by natural disasters and other occurrences when no other source of funding is available. The range of project funding is $5,000 to $50,000.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act funding is based on the IHS SDS and funded projects can be managed by the IHS under an Inter-Agency Agreement with EPA or an EPA direct grant. In addition, IHS manages and provides engineering services for sanitation facilities construction projects using other types of federal funding such as US Department of Agriculture/Rural Development, and others. 

Project Engineering 

A staff of DSFC engineers and engineering technicians provides engineering services 
for the design and construction of water and wastewater facilities. These staff also provide technical consultation and training on the oper­ation and maintenance of tribally-owned water supply and wastewater disposal systems. 


DSFC advocates for tribes during the devel­opment of national policies, regulations and programs. 

Operation and Maintenance 

The DSFC has developed an Operation and Maintenance initiative to assist tribal water and wastewater disposal system operators with achieving greater sustainability. The initiative has both short and long term goals and objectives. 

  • Operator certification and technical training; 
  • Small Asset Inventory: DSFC will develop small asset inventories for community systems which include information such as system components, design life, condition, and importance. This inventory will be used to develop full lifecycle costs of existing assets and, based on this information, funding for repair/replacement will be secured prior to component failure. In addition, a shared cost methodology has been developed to detail the responsibilities of the tribe and IHS. These objectives will reduce facility down time and lead to improved system perfor­mance and community health; and, 
  • A technical, managerial, and financial survey to assess training needs and assistance. 
  • Provide technical assistance to community operators including hands-on training; 
  • Evaluate financial records: analyze personnel costs for competitive salaries and wages for operators and administrative staff; develop or contract financial training including book keeping and basic accounting; and, provide rate studies; and, 
  • Provide managerial assistance: standardize sanitation facility by-laws, ordinances, and standard operating procedures. Examples include billing operations, meter reading, mailing of bills, and processing returns. 

Call or email an IHS CA Area Office District Engineer near you.

Drinking Water and Sanitation

Links and resources on drinking water and sanitation

July 28, 2021
Drought Resources

Important Drought Information for Indian Communities.