GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — The Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s water quality standards were approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the federal Clean Water Act. The approval follows a 20-year effort by the Tribe’s Environmental Programs Division, and places the Southern Ute Indian Tribe among the tribes recognized to have water quality standards approved by EPA under the Clean Water Act.
“EPA’s approval of the Tribe’s water quality standards is the culmination of years of work by the Tribe and its staff,” said Chairman Melvin J. Baker. “The tribal approval process included consulting with EPA and the State of Colorado and an outreach and engagement process with tribal members and stakeholders. The Tribe appreciates the EPA’s approval and looks forward to implementing the standards and issuing water quality certifications to protect water resources on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation.”
The Tribe collaborated with the State of Colorado and multiple county and municipal governments to develop its water quality standards. The EPA approved the standards after coming to the conclusion they are “consistent with the requirements of the Clean Water Act and EPA’s Water Quality Standards Regulation.”
“EPA congratulates the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the Tribal Council, and Environmental Programs Division for their determination in building programs and expertise to protect valuable Tribal water resources,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “We look forward to working together with the Tribe as a partner in ensuring clean rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands for tribal members.”
The Clean Water Act requires Tribes to complete a two-step process to establish water qualities. Step one is for tribes to acquire Clean Water Act water quality standards program authority from EPA, and secondly they must submit specific water quality standards to EPA for Clean Water Act review and approval.
With the approval of the Tribe’s standards, combined with the prior and separate EPA approval of Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe’s water quality standards, all federally recognized tribes with reservation lands in Colorado now have EPA-approved water quality standards.