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EPA approves Clean Water Act authority for Navajo Nation

Release Date: 01/24/2006
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, (415) 947-4248

( 01-24-06) SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced its approval of the Navajo Nation's application to administer federal Clean Water Act programs.

The Navajo Nation is the 34th tribe out of 563 tribes nationwide to be approved to administer water quality standards and a certification program.

“We are pleased to celebrate this achievement with the Navajo Nation. We'll continue to work together to protect and restore vital water resources on tribal land,” said Alexis Strauss, the EPA 's Water Division director for the Pacific Southwest region.

The tribe 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 that lie within the exterior borders of the Navajo Nation.

Under Clean Water Act requirements to receive such approval, a tribe must be federally recognized, have a governing body to carry out substantial governmental duties and powers, have jurisdiction to administer the programs within the boundaries of its reservation, and be reasonably capable of administering the program.

The Navajo Nation is the largest Indian reservation in the United States that encompasses approximately 27,000 square miles within its reservation boundaries. The Nation shares its border with three surrounding states – Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.