Environmental Protection

Agency Reviewing Black Feet Tribe Application for CWA Program

The Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in north-central Montana has applied to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for eligibility to administer the Water Quality Standards program under the Clean Water Act.

This eligibility is also referred to as "treatment in a similar manner as a state" (TAS). EPA is reviewing the application and will solicit comments on the Tribe’s assertion of authority through Sept. 30.

The Clean Water Act’s goals include restoring and protecting the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. Water quality standards established under the act serve as a foundation for pollution control efforts and are a fundamental component of watershed management. Specifically, these standards serve as water quality goals for individual surface waters, guide and inform monitoring and assessment activities, and provide a legal basis for regulatory pollution controls.

EPA’s review of the application is not an approval or disapproval of the Tribe’s standards. EPA review and approval or disapproval of specific standards is a separate agency action.

If approved, the Blackfeet Tribe would be the fourth tribe in Montana to obtain authority to administer the Water Quality Standards program. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation and the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation currently have standards in effect under the Clean Water Act. The Northern Cheyenne Tribe of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation received authority for the Water Quality Standards program in 2006. To date, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe has not submitted standards to EPA for approval.

Local governments and individuals wishing to comment on the Blackfeet Tribe’s application should submit comments through the state of Montana, which will include all comments received in its response to EPA. Comments should be sent to Bob Bukantis, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, P.O. Box 200901, Helena, MT, 59620-0901, or via fax: 406.444.4386, or via email at: bbukantis@mt.gov. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. on Sept. 30.

For more information, including a fact sheet, public notice and copies of the Tribe’s application materials, visit www.epa.gov/region8/water/wqs.

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