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News Releases from Region 06

Pueblo of Santa Ana Granted Federal Authority to Protect Water Quality

Contact Information: 
Joe Hubbard (r6press@epa.gov)
Jennah Durant

DALLAS - (July 22, 2015) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that the Pueblo of Santa Ana in N.M. has gained authority to administer its own water quality standards and certification programs under the Clean Water Act. The announcement was made today at the Regional Tribal Operations Committee (RTOC) meeting at the Pueblo of Isleta, N.M. Santa Ana is the 50th tribe of 567 federally recognized tribes nationwide to receive authority over the water quality standards and certification programs.

"This is an important achievement for the Pueblo of Santa Ana as they protect waters on their lands which are integral to daily life and their rich cultural heritage," said EPA regional administrator Ron Curry. "EPA's 1984 Indian Policy continues to represent a bold statement on the commitment to our partnership with federally recognized Indian tribes and to tribal self-governance in implementing environmental protection programs. EPA remains fully committed to engaging tribes as sovereign governments with a right to self-governance."

The Pueblo will protect public health, aquatic life and wildlife on the 78,000 acre area that includes portions of the Rio Grande, the Rio Jemez and other water bodies.

Under the Clean Water Act, a tribe must be federally recognized, have a governing body, jurisdiction and capability in order to administer a water quality standards program. EPA's approval of the tribe's water quality standards program application is not an approval or disapproval of the tribe's standards. EPA will review and take action on the tribe's water quality standards in a separate agency action.

The goal of the Clean Water Act includes restoring and protecting the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation's waters. Water quality standards established under the Clean Water Act set the tribe's expectations for reservation water quality. These standards also serve as water quality goals for individual surface waters, guide and inform monitoring and assessment activities, and provide a legal basis for permitting and regulatory pollution controls.

For more information on Tribal eligibility applications to administer EPA regulatory programs, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/tribalportal/laws/tas.htm

The Environmental Protection Agency established the Tribal Operations Committee (TOC) in 1994 to assist EPA with the establishment of a national co-regulatory partnership. The intent of the TOC was to implement the 1984 Indian Policy by providing a forum for enhancing tribal environmental protection. The Region 6 RTOC was subsequently established to serve as a liaison between the TOC, the Tribes, and Region 6 on national policy issues and to articulate tribal concerns to senior managers and staff regarding regional issues.

On November 8, 1984, the EPA issued its Policy for the Administration of Environmental Programs on Indian Reservations. In doing so, the EPA became the first federal agency to adopt a formal Indian policy to guide its relations with tribal governments in the administration of its programs.

To view letter to Pueblo of Santa Ana, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region6/6xa/pdf/santa_ana_tas_approval_ltr_2015.pdf

To view decision document, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region6/6xa/pdf/santa_ana_response_to_comments_2015.pdf

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