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Understanding the Impact of Water Pollution on Indigenous Land and Health: A Case Study of the Duck Valley Reservation

Semester: Summer 2023


Presentation description

Indigenous communities face disproportionate environmental-related health risks compared with the average North American population due to greater exposure to contamination (Hoover et al., 2012). Drawing from this, this study focuses on the Duck Valley Reservation, located on the Nevada-Idaho border, which is home to Shoshone-Paiute Tribes. Despite its small population of 1200 to 1500 people, there has been a growing concern regarding rising health issues over the last few decades due to water contamination from fossil fuels and pesticide-related chemicals. This research project examines (1) the social conditions and management practices that determined how toxic chemicals were handled on the Duck Valley Reservation and (2) the potential health and environmental consequences of these actions. To investigate these issues, we conducted a historical case study of the reservation that involved collecting and examining historical records and data from newspapers, tribal documents, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other sources. The team created a timeline of events, identified contaminants present on the reservation, and researched the concentration of these chemicals and their potential impacts on human health. Based on a study undertaken by the EPA, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) was found to be responsible for the release of diesel, gasoline, and naphthalene directly into the ground of the reservation from 1950 until the mid-1990s. This procedure possibly led to the formation of two hydrocarbon plumes that contaminated the main water supply of the reservation's most densely populated area. The location of the plumes has raised concerns over the long-term impacts of pollution due to its well-established connection to health (Levallois & Villanueva, 2019), education (Bondy & Campbell, 2017), and environmental issues (Madhav et al., 2019). Further work is required to gauge the impact of water pollution on community health and the environment to identify and prevent ongoing exposure to keep future generations safe from existing contamination.

Presenter Name: Cindy Diaz Rey

Presentation Type: Poster
Presentation Format: In Person
Presentation #4
College: Social & Behavioral Science
School / Department: Political Science
Research Mentor: Tabitha Benney
Date | Time: Thursday, Aug 3rd | 9:00 AM