Pueblo of Santa Ana gains federal authority to administer own water quality standards

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that the Pueblo of Santa Ana in New Mexico has gained authority to administer its own water quality standards and certification programs under the Clean Water Act.

DALLAS, TEXAS, July 22, 2015 -- Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the Pueblo of Santa Ana in New Mexico has gained authority to administer its own water quality standards and certification programs under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Santa Ana is the 50th tribe of 567 federally recognized tribes nationwide to receive authority over the water quality standards and certification programs.

The Pueblo will protect public health, aquatic life and wildlife on the 78,000 acre area that includes portions of the Rio Grande, the Rio Jemez and other waterbodies. Under the CWA, a tribe must be federally recognized and have a governing body, jurisdiction and capability in order to administer a water quality standards program. EPA's approval of Pueblo's application is not an approval or disapproval of the tribe's standards. EPA will review and take action on them in a separate agency action.

"This is an important achievement for the Pueblo of Santa Ana as they protect waters on their lands, which are integral to daily life and their rich cultural heritage," said EPA regional administrator Ron Curry. "EPA's 1984 Indian Policy continues to represent a bold statement on the commitment to our partnership with federally recognized Indian tribes and to tribal self-governance in implementing environmental protection programs. EPA remains fully committed to engaging tribes as sovereign governments with a right to self-governance."

The goal of the CWA includes restoring and protecting the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation's waters. Water quality standards established under the Act set the tribe's expectations for reservation water quality. These standards also serve as water quality goals for individual surface waters, guide and inform monitoring and assessment activities, and provide a legal basis for permitting and regulatory pollution controls.

See also: "Water Reuse: Experiences from the Santa Ana Pueblo"

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