For more than five years residents of the Warm Springs reservation have gone without reliable access to safe drinking water. Why?

By Chuck Thompson
Columbia Insight – February 19, 2021. 

When we set out to investigate the lack of safe drinking water that’s plagued Oregon’s Warm Springs Indian Reservation for over five years, we knew we wanted to move beyond grim statistics. It’s one thing to read that 60 percent of the population has low water pressure. It’s another to ride in a truck alongside residents who must drive miles from their homes just to fill water bottles from a trickling outdoor pipe.

When we dispatched video producer Deborah Bloom to Warm Springs for an update on the situation there, we knew she’d come back with moving footage. A veteran producer whose work has appeared on CNN, BBC, NBC, AFP and others, she’s one of the most talented producers in our part of the country. She proved that for Columbia Insight in November when covering 13-year-old whale warrior London Fletcher.

But we were astonished by her footage, which takes us intimately inside the lives of residents who have been contending with the outrageous environmental injustice at Warm Springs for over half a decade.

The water crisis at Warm Springs has been covered thoroughly and expertly in a variety of media. We’re proud to contribute our own piece of reporting with the hope it might push one step closer to the federal funding so badly needed to restore safe, clean, running water at Warm Springs.

In the meantime, donations to the Chúush Fund: Water for Warm Springs, operated by the MRG Foundation, is the best way to lend support.

Chuck Thompson is editor of Columbia Insight.

Based in Hood River, Oregon, Columbia Insight is an independent, environmental news organization covering the Columbia River Basin, which takes in parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia and small pieces of Nevada and Utah.