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TGB Approves Signor Water Softeners as Temporary Fix

By Joe Morey

News Editor


The LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) unanimously approved two resolutions dealing with a temporary fix to the long overdue Signor water problem.


“Signor water has been an issue for longer than I can remember. We set aside funding of $2.8 million to fix this problem,” explained TGB member Michelle Beaudin. “Until we decide on a solution, we authorized water softeners in every house in Signor as a band aide and that is what the resolutions are for. We don't want the community to think this is the fix, it's only temporary and we have full intentions to have a better solution for the Signor Community.”


LCO Public Works Director Willard Gouge explained the current situation stating that Signor is in a flood plain, surrounded by rivers, creeks, surface water.


“The water in the residential wells is bad, with high concentrations of iron and manganese,” Gouge said.


Gouge said the original plan for the $2.8 million set aside from ARPA funds was intended for a community drinking water system.


“This would involve drilling a community well  and a distribution system throughout signor,” Gouge explained. “The problem with this approach is that land is difficult to come by. The one area we investigated, which is to the east of Signor, has some land ownership issues that have to be resolved by the Realty department.


“We also investigated a well that is owned by the Signor church, but we discovered that is a shallow well, and hand dug, so that is not useful for our purposes,” Gouge said.


He went on to say that other areas around signor are either in the vicinity of a graveyard, or in the vicinity of existing septic systems, so we are unable to use these parcels either.


Gouge said they will now approach each well individually. Working with LCO Housing, the Public Works Department will inventory all of the homes in Signor to see if they already have treatment.


“If the home does not have treatment, and the homeowner would like for us to install treatment, then we will start that work this month,” Gouge said. “The first step is to Inventory the homes (who owns the home, do they have treatment, if so, what kind of treatment [brand, model, serial numbers of treatment systems]. We have already identified the local companies that provide the treatment we are looking for.”


Gouge said once the inventory is done, Indian Health Service will draw up a bid package for the third parties to place their bids.


Beaudin said in 2022 when the TGB set aside the $2.8m that Signor residents deserve clean water. She said at the time IHS wanted the Tribe to put in the water softeners but TGB decided they would do more. Since that time, the issues Gouge explained have come up and delayed the project, so the recent resolutions were to get the water softeners installed as a temporary fix.


In a 2019 article, Gouge stated in a letter to TGB that his department sampled the water for: pH, Temperature, Alkalinity, Total Dissolved Solids, Lead and Copper, Iron and Manganese, Nitrate, Nitrite and hardness.


“After a preliminary examination of the results, it was found that the problems in Signor are due to increased amounts of Manganese and Iron,” Gouge explained. “These would cause discoloration and funky taste in the water. These exceedances are what is called Secondary MCL (maximum contaminant level) exceedances and not necessarily a risk to human health.”


Gouge summed it up by stating, according to IHS, “These naturally occurring elements do not have an immediate negative health effect on human health, and therefore do not score in the funding range for federal intervention.”


Beaudin made it clear this was unacceptable and that after 50 years, “It’s getting addressed and we’re finally doing it. We haven’t forgotten about Signor. We’re dedicated to making sure their water problem is finally taken care of.”

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Olivia Finney
Olivia Finney
3 days ago

LCO Public Works Director Willard Gouge explained the current situation, noting that Signor is in a flood plain, surrounded by rivers, creeks, and surface water. contexto

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