GRIC gets grant from EPA

March 4, 2016


Mikhail Sundust

Community Newsperson


Cleaner burning diesel engines could lead to cleaner air in the Gila River Indian Community and improved health for residents and farm workers.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded $389,000 to the Gila River Indian Community’s Department of Environmental Quality to replace four construction vehicles with cleaner burning diesel engines at Gila River Farms as part of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act.


“Replacing older, dirtier diesel equipment with clean diesel backhoes and other construction vehicles protects the health of residents and workers,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest.


According to an EPA press release, “This program is part of the West Coast Collaborative, a clean air partnership that leverages public and private funds to reduce emissions from the most polluting diesel sources in impacted communities.”


A supplemental $389,465 in matching funds from Gila River Farms rounds out support for the project.


“Reducing diesel emissions from Gila River Farms operations in Districts 3, 4, and 5 (population estimated at approximately 7,700), will help to protect families, school aged children, the elderly, people with respiratory illnesses (asthma etc.), and the Community at large,” said DEQ Director Ondrea Barber in an email.


The agency is also working with GRIC through it’s Making a Visible Difference in Communities initiative.


GRIC is one of only five communities in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region that will receive support and technical assistance as part of the MVD initiative over the next two years, said Barber.


The EPA is concerned that “as the Phoenix area continues to expand, the reservation may face increasing pressures on development, housing, and transportation.”


Through the MVD project, the EPA will advance the Community’s environmental protection and sustainability goals for the construction of green buildings, increased renewable energy use, cleaner transportation, and an increased participation in recycling and composting.


Barber said, “DEQ hopes to leverage this support with Community resources and funding from various Federal agencies in order to truly make a difference in our Community.”