Shoshone Bannock Tribes to Administer Water Standards
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 has approved the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes' application for treatment in a similar manner as a state under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), according to a Sept. 9 press release.
The approval gives the Shoshone Bannock Tribes greater authority and responsibility for protecting water quality on the Fort Hall Reservation. The approval covers all of the waterbodies within the exterior boundaries of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation.
According to Elin Miller, EPA regional administrator in Seattle, the decision reflects real progress in fulfilling one of the agency's top priorities.
"Building tribal expertise and increased capacity for environmental protection is a top priority for EPA," said Miller. "Our action today not only acknowledges the Tribes' demonstrated commitment to protecting water quality, but also reflects how seriously we take our tribal trust responsibilities in the pursuit of environmental protection for all."
EPA's action means that the Tribes can now develop their own water quality standards under the Clean Water Act. They also can issue water quality certifications for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System wastewater discharge permits and any other federal permit or license where there is a discharge to Reservation waters.
The Tribes have been working with EPA and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality as the Tribes develop their water quality standards. The standards will set goals for how clean the reservation waters within the Fort Hall Indian Reservation should be.