U.S. EPA Delegates Clean Water Act Authority to Northern California Tribe

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that Dry Creek Rancheria in Sonoma County, Calif., has gained authority to administer its own water quality programs under the federal Clean Water Act.

The announcement was made today at the 19th annual EPA Pacific Southwest Tribal conference on the Pala Reservation in San Diego County.  Dry Creek Rancheria is the 47th tribe out of 563 federally recognized tribes nationwide with delegated authority over water quality protection programs. The 75-acre Reservation, located in Geyserville 75 miles north of San Francisco, has almost 2 miles of creeks and seasonal wetlands. 

“The EPA is pleased that Dry Creek Rancheria will assume the role of implementing key environmental regulations, and we encourage other tribes to do the same,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Collaborating with the tribes, we can protect and restore precious water resources on their lands throughout the Pacific Southwest.”

Dry Creek Rancheria will work with the EPA on a government-to-government basis to develop and adopt water quality standards, which, once approved, will form the basis for water quality-based effluent limitations and other requirements for discharges to waters within the tribe’s jurisdiction. The tribe is also authorized to grant or deny certification for federally permitted or licensed activities that may affect waters within the borders of their lands

Under Clean Water Act requirements, to administer a water quality standards program the tribe must be federally recognized, have a governing body to carry out substantial duties and powers, have the jurisdiction and capability to administer the program within its reservation.

The Dry Creek Rancheria is one of more than 20 independent communities that comprise the Pomo people. Ancestors of the Pomo people lived in what is now Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties. Now a day, descendants of those early people are known as the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians. The tribe was officially recognized as a sovereign nation in 1915.

For more information on “Treatment in the same manner as a State,” please visit: http://www.epa.gov/tribalportal/laws/tas.htm

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