September 30, 2016

Clean Water Act: Treatment as a State and Federal Baseline Water Quality Standards

Holland & Knight Native American Law Blog
Kayla Gebeck Carroll

Section 518(e) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to treat eligible federally recognized tribes, with Indian reservations, as a state (TAS) for purposes of administering section 303 provisions of the CWA. To-date, 53 tribes have obtained TAS authority to review, establish, and revise water quality standards (WQS) under CWA section 303(c).

TAS Pursuant to Section 303(d) of CWA

On September 26, the EPA issued a final rule that establishes a process for tribes to obtain TAS authority to administer the water quality restoration provisions of CWA Section 303(d) including issuing lists of impaired waters and developing total maximum daily loads, which serve as pollution caps for attaining and maintaining water quality standards. The final rule is effective October 26, 2016.

For more information, please see Treatment of Indian Tribes in a Similar Manner as States for Purposes of Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act.

EPA Baseline Water Quality Standards for Indian Reservations

On September 29, EPA announced that it is seeking public input on whether it should establish federal baseline WQS for Indian reservation waters that have yet to establish WQS under Section 303(c) CWA. The notice also seeks input on what those WQS should be and how they should be implemented. Federal baseline WQS would define water quality goals for unprotected Indian reservation waters and serve as the foundation for CWA actions to protect human health and the environment. Comments must be received on or before December 28, 2016.

For more information, please see Federal Baseline Water Quality Standards for Indian Reservations.

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