Implementing Clean Water Act Programs in Indian Country
Treatment in a Similar Manner as a State (TAS)
The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants to waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters. Tribes are not required to administer CWA programs, but may apply for TAS eligibility under CWA section 518(e) to administer certain CWA programs. Learn more about Tribal Assumption of Federal Law through TAS.
Tribes must apply for and receive EPA approval to be eligible for TAS for each program in which they are interested. Tribes may seek TAS for grant eligibility to develop and implement water quality programs consistent with the Clean Water Act and for authorization to administer the following programs:
TAS to Receive CWA Grant Funding
- Water Pollution Control Grant Program (CWA Section 106)
- Nonpoint Source Grant Program (CWA Section 319)
TAS to Operate CWA Regulatory Programs
- Water Quality Standards (CWA Section 303(c))
- Impaired Water Listing and Total Maximum Daily Loads (CWA Section 303(d))
- Water Quality Certification (CWA Section 401)
- National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting (CWA Section 402)
- Dredge and Fill Permitting (CWA Section 404(g))
Where tribes do not have the authority under the Clean Water Act to build capacity and implement their own programs, EPA generally conducts direct implementation activities to ensure that tribal water programs are in compliance with the Clean Water Act, and ensure environmental protection both inside and outside of Indian country. Learn more about Direct Implementation in Indian Country.
Additionally, under CWA section 311, the Oil Pollution Prevention regulation sets forth requirements for the prevention of, preparedness for, and response to oil discharges at specific non-transportation-related facilities. The goal of this regulation is to prevent oil from reaching navigable waters and adjoining shorelines, and to contain discharges of oil. EPA is responsible for inspections and taking enforcement action in Indian country, as appropriate, when there is noncompliance with the regulation. This is a federal-only program and is not delegated to tribes or states. EPA may enter into written agreements with tribes to allow properly trained employees to obtain and use a federal credential to conduct inspections on behalf of the Agency; inspection reports are sent to EPA and the Agency makes all compliance determinations and initiates, if appropriate, any subsequent enforcement activity. Learn more about the Oil Pollution Prevention Regulation.