News Releases from Region 06
Pueblo of Laguna Granted Federal Authority to Protect Water Quality
DALLAS – (Dec. 21, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is granting the Pueblo of Laguna N.M. authority to administer its own water quality standards and certification programs under the Clean Water Act. Laguna is the 54th tribe of 567 federally recognized tribes nationwide to receive authority over the water quality standards and certification programs.
“This is an important achievement to help the Pueblo of Laguna advance its environmental goals,” said EPA regional administrator Ron Curry. “EPA applauds the Pueblo for its leadership to take steps to protect their water resources.”
The Pueblo will protect public health, aquatic life and wildlife for 500,000 acres that includes portions of the Rio San Jose, the Rio Paguate, Water Canyon Creek, Encinal Creek, the Rio Puerco, the Rio Salado, and wetlands, ponds, springs and additional streams.
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
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.
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