Cherokee Nation leaders joined local, state and federal representatives Wednesday to celebrate completion of the new Delaware County Water Treatment Plant, which will provide fresh, cleaner and safer drinking water to nearly 2,500 homes in southern Delaware County and northern Adair County.

Cherokee Nation partnered with the South Delaware County Regional Water Authority and federal and state programs to develop the nearly $16 million water treatment plant.

“This is a proud day for the Cherokee Nation both in terms of the scope of the project and in terms of the families it will affect across several communities,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “This project is going to make a difference in the lives of thousands of people, who will be able to reap the benefits of living in communities with clean and reliable water for decades to come.”

Planning for the South Delaware County Regional Water Treatment Plant started in 2012. With construction now complete, the water treatment plant will serve the communities of Kansas, Leach, Colcord, Oaks, Twin Oaks, Rose and West Siloam Springs.

“Aging water infrastructure presents many challenges in terms of needed upgrades and repair work,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ken McQueen. “This project, which will protect public health and directly benefit the local community and neighboring water districts, is a direct result of investments from the Cherokee Nation, Indian Health Services, USDA and EPA.”

After Wednesday’s ribbon cutting, guests toured the new water treatment plant to see how the new facility works. The water treatment plant has a maximum capacity of about 2 million gallons per day, which allows for additional growth in the communities.

Representatives in attendance for the ceremony included Chief Hoskin, Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief Bryan Warner, Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Tina Glory Jordan, Cherokee Nation Chief of Staff Todd Enlow, Cherokee Nation District 10 Tribal Councilor Harley Buzzard, USDA Rural Development State Director Lee Denney, Environmental Protection Agency Region VI Deputy Administrator David Gray, Oklahoma, DEQ Assistant Director Water Quality Division Terry Lyhane, Oklahoma Water Resources Board Lending Manager Charles de Coune and South Delaware County Regional Water Authority staff Jay Updike.