TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - Cherokee Nation and the city of Locust Grove have entered into an agreement for the tribe to contribute $877,800 to help improve the town's water treatment plant.
The tribal funds will help with the cost of materials and labor for the $3.5 million project. The plant currently serves more than 600 homes, 225 of which are occupied by Cherokee Nation citizens.
"The town's sanitation system was in desperate need of an upgrade, and we're pleased beyond measure that the Cherokee Nation could help," said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. "Building and maintaining partnerships with our local communities is so important. When we build roads, bridges and water lines, or invest in projects like this one in Locust Grove, it helps Cherokees in the area, but it helps everyone else, too. We're so happy to provide a more safe and sanitary system for the entire community."
The town has long been dealing with problems caused by the aging water treatment plant.
Department of Environmental Quality ordered the plant to make several changes, citing violations including the discharge of raw sewage on site due to overflow.
The treatment plant will receive brand-new equipment and a substantial expansion. After upgrades are complete, the plant should be able to serve the current household population, as well as additional households that may be added to the system. The improvements will help the plant remain in compliance for at least another 30 years.
"I don't know how any town around here can make it without the help of the Cherokee Nation," said Locust Grove Mayor Heath Holman. "We are extremely grateful for this and everything the tribe does to help our community."
Cherokee Nation Community Services used tribal funds to complete 10 water and sewer projects, totaling more than $250,000 in fiscal year 2013.
For more information on Community Services' engineering and sanitation program, visit http://www.cherokee.org/Services/Community/EngineeringandSanitation.aspx.