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EPA seeks public comment on Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe of Minnesota's application to implement water quality standards

Contact Information: 
Allison Lippert (

CHICAGO (June 3, 2019) – The Leech Lake Band of Objibwe of Minnesota has requested U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval to assert tribal authority to regulate water quality for all surface water bodies within its reservation. EPA is currently reviewing the tribe’s application and will accept public comments until July 15, 2019.

The Leech Lake Indian Reservation occupies 864,158 acres in northwestern Minnesota including portions of Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard and Itasca counties.

The tribe applied to EPA for “treatment in a similar manner as a state” for the Clean Water Act Section 303(c) Water Quality Standards and 401 Certification programs. EPA’s approval would allow the tribe to develop water quality standards for surface waters within the reservation and submit them to EPA for review and approval.

The Clean Water Act and several other environmental laws authorize EPA to treat federally recognized Indian tribes in a similar manner as a state for implementing and managing certain environmental programs. To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Have a governing body carrying out substantial governmental duties and powers.
  • Have appropriate authority.
  • Be capable of carrying out the functions of the program.

A copy of the complete application with supporting maps is available for review on EPA’s public notices website: