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Navajo Nation agrees to improve wastewater treatment at two plants

Release Date: 02/14/2006
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, (415) 947-4248,

(San Francisco, Calif.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority have agreed on actions the utility will take to comply with wastewater discharge, monitoring and maintenance regulations at its Window Rock and Tuba City Wastewater Treatment Plants on the Navajo Nation.

As early as January 2000, NTUA violated its pollutant discharge permits by exceeding the effluent limitations for biochemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, fecal coliform and/or E. coli, and residual chlorine.

Both facilities also failed to report monitoring data, reported it incorrectly, or submitted illegible reports. In addition, on July 19, a discharge occurred at the Tuba City facility when part of a levee broke, releasing partially treated sewage that flowed into the Moenkopi Wash. Since then, NTUA has repaired the levee.

The Window Rock Wastewater Treatment Plant discharges its effluent to Black Creek, a tributary to Puerco River, and the Tuba City plant discharges its effluent to Moenkopi Wash. Both are tributaries to the Little Colorado River.

Pollutant discharge permits contain limits on discharges, monitoring and reporting requirements, and other provisions to ensure that water quality and human health are protected.

“Permit limits are designed to prevent wastewater discharges from polluting nearby water bodies and harming drinking water resources and habitat,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA's Water Division for the Pacific Southwest region. “We are confident the Tribal Authority will promptly make the needed corrections to bring these plants into Clean Water Act compliance.”

The orders require NTUA to meet permit limits by the end of the year for the Tuba City plant and by July 2007 for the Window Rock facility. By March 31, NTUA will develop plans to improve the wastewater treatment operations at the facilities.

For more information on wastewater discharge permits, visit: