Navajo Tribal Utility Authority enters agreements to halt water pollution
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Navajo Nation EPA have announced a pair of settlements with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority to bring its wastewater treatment facility in Window Rock into compliance with the federal Clean Water Act and Navajo Nation Clean Water Act.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, July 7, 2015 -- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Navajo Nation EPA (NNEPA) have announced a pair of settlements with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) to bring its wastewater treatment facility in the city of Window Rock into compliance with both the federal Clean Water Act and the Navajo Nation Clean Water Act.
EPA's agreement backs up a recent ground-breaking NNEPA settlement that required the NTUA to pay a $25,000 penalty. This is the first time that a tribally-owned entity has paid a penalty for violations of the Navajo Nation Clean Water Act. The NTUA has committed to bring the Window Rock facility into full compliance by December 31, 2015, or face additional penalties. NTUA has also agreed to build new infrastructure for the treatment plant at the site.
An EPA inspection revealed that since at least 2011, NTUA had been discharging pollutants above its permit limits to Black Creek, a tributary of the Puerco River that feeds into the Little Colorado River. Other violations of the NTUA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit included its failure to submit complete and timely reports while inadequately operating and maintaining its existing treatment system. The plant collects and treats sanitary sewage from a population of about 13,300 in Apache County, Ariz., within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation.
The settlements require the NTUA to conduct sampling, submit quarterly reports, train and certify the plant's operators, and hold regular compliance meetings with senior officials of EPA and NNEPA. The NTUA will also submit a plan for EPA and NNEPA's approval for the construction of an entirely new treatment plant including a detailed schedule for commissioning and bringing the new facility online. Approximately $10 million in funding for the new facility was provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service Water and Waste Disposal Loans and Grants Program.