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Havasupai Tribe to develop and enforce water quality standards

Release Date: 04/28/2011
Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan (415) 947-4149,

Tribe receives “Treatment in the same manner as a State” from U.S. EPA

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. EPA announced the approval of the Havasupai Tribe’s application for “Treatment in the same manner as a State” under Section 303 of the Clean Water Act.

This decision promotes tribal self-government, empowering the Havasupai Tribe to develop water quality standards in order to protect Tribal waters, which include numerous creeks, springs, and approximately 155 acres of freshwater wetlands.

“We are pleased to formally recognize the Havasupai’s authority under the Clean Water Act,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “The waters on Havasupai land are integral to their life and culture, so it’s fitting that the Tribe make the decisions protecting them.”

The Havasupai Tribe will develop water quality standards for their waters, including Havasu Springs which flows into Havasu Creek. Similar to the process used by States, proposed tribal standards will be available for public review and comment, and EPA must approve them before they go into effect under the Clean Water Act. At that point the Tribe will be responsible for taking enforcement actions when there are violations of the Tribe’s water quality standards.

The Havasupai Reservation is located in north central Arizona on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, and spans approximately 185,000 acres. The Reservation contains 139.6 miles of creeks of which 6.4 miles are perennial, 132.4 miles are nonperennial and 0.8 miles are canals. The Havasupai people are called Havasu ‘Baaja, which translates into People of the Blue-Green Waters. Their name reflects the beautiful blue-green water from Havasu Springs that flows as Havasu Creek to the Village of Supai and down four waterfalls to become tributary to the Colorado River.

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