Water: Resources & Performance
Tribal Water Plan
Protecting Public Health and Water Resources in Indian Country
A plan for EPA/Tribal Partnership
Prepared by the United States Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Water www.epa.gov/ow
Map of Indian Country within EPA Regions 1 through 10
"Indian country" is defined in 18 U.S.C. Section 1151 which provides:
The term "Indian country," . . .means (a) all land within the limits of any Indian reservation under the jurisdiction of the United States government, notwithstanding the issuance of any patent, and including rights-of-way running through the reservation, (b) all dependent Indian communities within the borders of the United States whether within the original or subsequently acquired territory thereof, and whether within or without the limits of a state, and (c) all Indian allotments, the Indian titles to which have not been extinguished, including rights-of-way running through the same.
This definition is used for civil jurisdiction. DeCoteau v. District County Court, 420 U.S. 425, 427 n.2 (1975.) Numerous federal Indian law cases discuss the meaning of this statute and of the concept of "Indian country."
1This map is intended to provide a general understanding of the location of Indian country, but is not intended as a legal representation.
A. The National Indian ProgramIII. The Office of Water Tribal Plan: History, Timing, and Purpose
B. The National Water Program
A. A National Approach to Tribal Water Quality ProtectionIV. Water Programs in Indian Country: Priorities and Strategic Directions
B. Specific Targets for Indian Country
C. Tribal Water Programs
D. Plan Purpose and Development
E. Establishing Water Program Priorities
A. Global Targets with Tribal ImpactsV. Training for Office of Water Employees
1. Global Strategic Target 1: Access to Basic SanitationB. Specific Tribal Targets from EPA’s National Water Program
2. Global Strategic Target 2: Access to Safe Drinking Water
VI. Next Steps
Tribal Management System Matrix
All Applicable FY 2005 - 2008 Targets and Activity Measures.
Tribal Program Activity Measures with Targets:
Breakout by EPA Regions
EPA Policy for the Administration of Environmental Programs on Indian Reservations
American Indian Environmental Office Tribal Plan - 2004
EPA’s Office of Water (OW) is pleased to issue its final 2005 through 2008 Plan for Indian country. The Plan is intended to maximize the positive impacts of OW resources on our nation’s environment. It will be used as guidance by Agency management and staff as they work with tribes to protect the health of tribal communities and associated aquatic systems.
This OW Plan is designed to create federal/tribal partnerships that protect human health and the waters of Indian country by supporting the development and implementation of clean water and safe drinking water programs. It consolidates, in one document, a nationwide approach to tribal water protection.
To maximize the effectiveness of the OW Plan, tribal leaders and environmental managers were encouraged to participate early in the development process. OW invited tribal comment at national and regional meetings throughout the country, as well as on several conference calls. This final document reflects tribal input received by the Agency during document development and review. It is the product of genuine partnership between federally recognized tribal governments and EPA’s Office of Water.
The Office of Water is firmly committed to enhancing its partnerships with tribes and looks forward to a continuing collaborative effort to address issues related to protection of water resources in Indian country.
—Benjamin H. Grumbles
Office of Water
It has been EPA’s long standing policy to work with federally recognized, sovereign tribal nations on a government-to-government basis. This policy, and other concepts critical to Agency interactions with tribes, are articulated in EPA’s 1984 Indian Policy. The collective requirements of the Indian Policy lay the groundwork for all of the Agency’s work with tribes.
EPA’s Indian Policy provides the foundation from which the Office of Water (OW) looks ahead to enhanced implementation of water protection programs in Indian country. Our tribal partners across the country were vital participants in the development of this OW Tribal Plan. We welcome their continued collaboration during its implementation.
This Plan was developed as part of the Agency’s larger strategic planning process. It is intended to ensure that EPA’s goals and strategies, current programs, and future initiatives for water protection in Indian country are set appropriately and implemented effectively by both headquarters and regional offices. It is also intended to clearly communicate our intent with regard to those goals, strategies, programs, and initiatives to our tribal partners.
The document provides an orientation to the organization of EPA, with an emphasis on the structure of the Office of Water. It summarizes the roles and responsibilities of the various offices within OW, including the National Indian Program (which includes the American Indian Environmental Office), and the National Water Program (which includes the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, the Office of Science and Technology, the Office of Wastewater Management, and the Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds).
It then moves to a discussion of the history, timing, and purpose of OW strategic planning. It provides a description of OW’s strategy for protecting our nation’s waters, including tribal waters; our identification, with tribal assistance, of certain national targets as being particularly critical to successful tribal water protection; and the consequent establishment of high priority water protection activities for Indian country.
This Plan is intended to guide Agency activities through 2008 and to ensure that those activities produce quantifiable results. However, because it is being finalized early in 2005, the document can only provide a 2005 perspective of OW’s planned strategies, intended activities, and projected results through 2008. In reality, the Office of Water engages in a continuous planning process. As part of that process, the strategies, progress measures, and activities described in this document will be evaluated annually, and may be refined or revised. As it becomes available, updated information will be made available on EPA’s Office of Water web page.
PROTECTING PUBLIC HEALTH AND WATER RESOURCES IN INDIAN COUNTRY
A Plan for EPA/Tribal Partnership
PURPOSE: This National Water Program Tribal Plan1 is designed to create partnerships that protect human health and aquatic ecosystems in Indian country by supporting the development and implementation of clean water and safe drinking water programs. The Plan consolidates, in one document, a nationwide approach to protecting the public health and water resources of tribes. While this document recognizes the benefits of cross-funding and crossmedia operation of tribal environmental protection efforts, it focuses on water programs and issues, which are the direct responsibility of EPA’s National Water Program.
1 The current document is called a "Plan" to distinguish it from the Agency’s broader Strategic Plan.
I. THE EPA ORGANIZATION
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established in 1970 to protect human health and the environment. Since that time, EPA has been working for a cleaner and healthier environment for the American public. The Office of the Administrator resides at the top of the Agency’s hierarchy, with the EPA Administrator directly responsible to the President. Twelve mission specific offices, each headed by its own Assistant Administrator, radiate from the Office of the Administrator, including the:
Office of Administration and Resource Management
Office of Air and Radiation
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
Office of Environmental Information
Office of the Chief Financial Officer
Office of General Council
Office of the Inspector General
Office of International Affairs
Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances
Office of Research and Development
Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
Office of Water
The Agency also has 10 regional offices. These regional offices are responsible, within the boundaries of their regions, for the execution of Agency programs, and other such activities, as assigned.
II. EPA’s OFFICE OF WATER: AN OVERVIEW
Two distinct functional areas exist within EPA’s Office of Water (OW). These two areas are the National Indian Program and the National Water Program.
A. The National Indian Program
The National Indian Program, which is housed in the American Indian Environmental Office (AIEO), within OW, specifically supports the environmental protection needs of tribes. AIEO differs from the other offices within OW, in that its sphere of responsibility includes not only water issues but all environmental media. AIEO serves as the central contact point between EPA regional and headquarters offices and all federally recognized tribes. It plays a pivotal role in guiding Agency activities associated with the environmental and human health issues and concerns of tribes and provides Agency coordination for high-level discussions between EPA and its tribal partners. AIEO is instrumental in developing EPA’s tribal policies and ensures that offices throughout the Agency establish and maintain respectful, appropriate government-togovernment relationships in their work with tribes.
AIEO also administers the Agency’s Indian General Assistance Program (GAP, or IGAP) grant funding for tribes. These monies support basic, crossmedia infrastructure-building activities that are critical to tribal environmental programs and provide the initial footing upon which many programs, including water programs, are built.
OW understands that the water programs supported by its National Water Program constitute only one piece within a broader context of tribal environmental programs. OW further recognizes that tribal programs, including water programs, may draw funding from multiple sources, including GAP, other EPA media offices, and other federal agencies. OW supports tribal coordination of multimedia environmental protection efforts, including water quality protection. OW believes that this type of coordination, where appropriate, promotes effective implementation and operation of a full range of environmental protection measures and best serves the needs of tribes.
OW also actively supports cross-cutting EPA tribal initiatives such as the Indian Program Policy Council (IPPC), a high-level Agency group co-chaired by the Deputy Assistant Administrator for OW and the Deputy Regional Administrator for the lead region for the National Indian Program. The IPPC is charged with identifying and implementing collaborative means of addressing those tribal issues that have environmental implications for multiple media areas. In addition, AIEO, in conjunction with the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water and the Office of Wastewater Management, has assumed a leadership role in the facilitation of partnership and coordination among federal agencies with responsibilities to tribes, to help ensure that the United Nations Millennium Development Goal commitments made by the United States at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development2 are met for federally recognized tribes. Federal agencies currently partnering with EPA in this effort include the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Health and Human Services. OW is also represented on the Tribal Science Council and is at the forefront in working on issues raised by its tribal leadership, including lifeways issues.
2 United Nations. 2002. Report of the World Summit on Sustainable Development: Johannesburg, South Africa, 26 August - 4 September, 2002. New York: United Nations.
While the benefits of cross-funding and crossmedia operation of tribal environmental protection efforts are recognized, and the development, oversight, and leadership role of AIEO in areas such as tribal policy and EPA’s implementation of federal trust responsibilities cannot be minimized, this document is limited in scope to issues and activities that are specific to EPA’s National Water Program. The scope limitation helps to avoid duplication between this National Water Program Plan and strategies and plans prepared by other EPA media programs (such as air, hazardous and solid waste, pesticides, and toxics) or by EPA’s National Indian Program for the resources and activities it administers. Consequently, several major, EPAwide tribal activities in which the National Water Program is involved are intentionally omitted. Among these are:
The development of Tribal Environmental Agreements (TEAs)
The Tribal Enterprise Architecture development project
OW recognizes that the programs and activities administered by the National Indian Program provide the foundation for building strong tribal environmental programs, including water protection programs. However, OW believes these cross-cutting efforts are better addressed in cross-media planning documents rather than in this document, which focuses on water issues and water programs. For further information on National Indian Program activities and EPA’s crossmedia tribal strategy, please see the American Indian Environmental Office Tribal Plan - 2004 in Appendix E. It is also available, along with other information on EPA’s National Indian Program, on the Web at: www.epa.gov/indian.
B. The National Water Program
In addition to housing AIEO and its National Indian Program, EPA’s OW is home to the National Water Program, which provides an important structural umbrella for activities that prevent water pollution, provide clean and safe water, reduce global and crossborder environmental risks, and protect the American public and the environment across the United States from risks associated with poor water quality. EPA’s National Water Program helps to protect the country’s drinking water and restores and safeguards our ground water and the waters of our streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands, estuaries, coasts, and oceans. Programs and activities administered by the National Water Program establish minimum acceptable water quality standards (WQS) for the American public, independent of geographic location, economic status, ethnicity, or other social or geopolitical considerations.
Four water media offices are housed within the broader National Water Program. These include:
The Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (OGWDW). OGWDW, in partnership with states, tribes, and others, safeguards public health by protecting the country’s ground water and ensuring safe drinking water for consumers nationwide. In addition, along with EPA’s regional drinking water programs, OGWDW oversees implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the national law that protects sources of drinking water and requires public water systems to provide drinking water that meets national safety standards. OGWDW develops and helps implement national drinking water standards, oversees, assists, and helps fund drinking water and source water protection programs, supports small drinking water systems, protects underground sources of drinking water through the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program, and develops and disseminates informational materials for public education and outreach. OGWDW works cooperatively with states, tribes, and EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance to help ensure that public water systems meet national protection standards.
The Office of Science and Technology (OST). OST is responsible for developing sound, scientifically defensible standards, criteria, advisories, guidelines, and limitations under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Safe Drinking Water Act. OST issues health advisories for use by states and tribes and sponsors extensive research on the effects of pollutants on aquatic organisms, fish, and wildlife. This office is committed to furthering the understanding of the effects of pollutants discharged into our nation’s surface waters. It focuses on such diverse programs as technology based controls and pollution prevention techniques for industrial dischargers, human health and environmental exposure and risk assessment, and water quality standards. OST works closely with numerous stakeholders, including states, tribes, industries, trade associations, and environmental groups, to develop and manage these programs.
The Office of Wastewater Management (OWM). OWM is responsible for key programs that contribute to the overall health of our nation’s waters and watersheds. Some of its responsibilities include administration of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit Program (NPDES) and the National Pretreatment Program, stormwater management and control of combined sewer overflows, management of sanitary sewer overflows, and oversight of concentrated animal feeding operations. OWM supports grant programs for water quality demonstrations, research, and new infrastructure construction and encourages the development of new technologies, innovative techniques, and improved management of onsite systems. OWM works in partnership with states, tribes, and others to attain the nation’s water quality goals and promote safe, effective, and efficient management of community water resources.
The Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds (OWOW). OWOW promotes a watershed approach to managing, protecting, and restoring the water resources and aquatic ecosystems of our marine and fresh waters. This strategy is based on the premise that water quality and ecosystem problems are best solved at the watershed level and that local citizens play an integral role in achieving local clean water goals. In conjunction with its many programs, OWOW provides technical and financial assistance to watershed protection efforts and develops regulations and guidance for watershed-based approaches to problem solving. The office provides leadership, policy direction, and technical and financial support to the 10 EPA regions as well as to the states, tribes, and territories that implement aspects of its programs. OWOW also collaborates with other federal agencies that have similar missions and with local governments, privatesector stakeholders, and nonprofit organizations.
EPA employees in the National Water Program’s four water media offices work closely with their counterparts in EPA’s regional offices to coordinate water policy and program efforts across the country, including in Indian country.
III. THE OFFICE OF WATER TRIBAL PLAN: HISTORY, TIMING, AND PURPOSE
EPA first published its Indian Policy and the guidance for its implementation in 1984. EPA’s Indian Policy, which remains in effect today and is included as Appendix D, calls on the Agency to develop and maintain government-to-government relationships with federally recognized tribes as it works to improve environmental protection. The 1984 Indian Policy "recognizes tribal governments as the primary parties for setting standards, making environmental policy decisions, and managing [environmental] programs. . . consistent with Agency standards and regulations." The Policy also states that:
"Until tribal governments are willing and able to assume full responsibility for delegable programs, the Agency will retain responsibility for managing programs for reservations (unless the state has an express grant of jurisdiction from Congress sufficient to support delegation to the state government)."
In October 1998, EPA’s National Water Program issued a document titled Protecting Public Health and Water Resources in Indian Country: A Strategy for EPA/Tribal Partnership. The document was designed to set program-specific performance measures to meet the goal of clean water in Indian country. It also identified activities designed to meet goal measures and ensure movement toward the nationwide environmental objectives related to Indian country described in EPA’s then-current Strategic Plan. The 1998 National Water Program tribal strategy set 2005 as the target date for achieving its objectives, as did the EPA Strategic Plan.
In October 2003, after extensive outreach to states, tribes, and others, EPA published a new Strategic Plan for 2003–2008. This new Strategic Plan includes five major environmental goals, including:
Clean Air and Global Climate Change
Clean and Safe Water
Land Preservation and Restoration
Healthy Communities and Ecosystems
Compliance and Environmental Stewardship
National Water Program interests, which include programs authorized by the CWA and the SDWA, are primarily addressed in Goal 2: Clean and Safe Water. However, some areas of interest, especially those surrounding large water body issues, are addressed in Goal 4: Healthy Communities and Ecosystems. The 2003 - 2008 EPA Strategic Plan can be found at:
In light of the publication of EPA’s new Strategic Plan, and because of improvements in EPA’s understanding of tribal environmental issues since 1998, EPA’s National Water Program developed this new tribal Plan for 2005–2008. As with the National Water Program’s 1998 tribal strategy, the purpose of this tribal Plan is to consolidate, in one document, a nationwide approach to protecting the public health and water resources of Indian country. This National Water Program Plan identifies measures that will be used to track progress toward reaching relevant goals and objectives, as articulated in the Agency’s Strategic Plan. It also identifies key water program activities that EPA believes are particularly important to Indian country and which the Agency intends to support during the next several years.
Consistent with the federal government’s trust responsibility to federally recognized tribes, and in accordance with EPA policy and guidance, the National Water Program intends to continue to work with tribes toward full implementation of water programs in Indian country. Although this Plan is limited in scope to those activities undertaken by tribes and/or EPA to protect human health and water resources in Indian country,3 the National Water Program will also continue its work with tribes in other settings, to protect water resources outside of Indian country where tribes have rights, such as treaty guarantees of resource protection.
3 Although this Plan uses the term "Indian country," EPA recognizes that the scope of activities may differ among water programs because of statutory requirements. For example, water program grants authorized under Section 106 of the Clean Water Act may be awarded only to tribes on reservations, whereas EPA water permitting activities may include other areas of Indian country, such as Indian allotments and dependent Indian communities. The scope of an activity will be determined by the appropriate statutory authority.
A. A National Approach to Tribal Water Quality Protection
Congress has delegated authority to EPA to ensure that environmental programs designed to protect human health and the environment are carried out throughout the United States, including in Indian country. In Indian country, as elsewhere, the National Water Program’s primary goal is to assist in developing and implementing water programs that protect human health and aquatic ecosystems. This goal may be approached in the following ways:
Through direct federal implementation of water protection activities
By building the tribes’ capacity to implement their own programs
Through the creation of voluntary partnerships that leverage federal, tribal, and state resources and expertise
No matter what the method, the ultimate intent is to ensure that Indian country is afforded the same water quality protections as are provided to populations in other parts of the United States.
The overall goal structure of the EPA Strategic Plan identifies certain areas that are of special interest to the National Water Program because they detail specific water quality and public health sub-objectives for all parts of the United States. These sub-objectives, which are under Goals 2 and 4 of the EPA Strategic Plan and will be specifically targeted by Agency efforts between now and 2008, include:
Water Safe to Drink
Fish and Shellfish Safe to Eat
Water Safe for Swimming
Restored and Improved Water Quality on a Watershed Basis
Protect Coastal and Ocean Waters/Estuaries
Protect Mexico Border Water
Protect the Chesapeake Bay
Protect the Great Lakes
Protect the Gulf of Mexico
As each of these 10 sub-objectives is described in the EPA Strategic Plan, specific, targeted goals for 2008 are identified, and strategies for movement toward their attainment are described. Again, it must be emphasized that these targets and strategies are intended to apply to the entire country, and are not specific to individual population groups or to particular geographic areas.
As part of its efforts to implement the 10 subobjectives of the Strategic Plan, OW has developed National Water Program Guidance for fiscal year 2005. A key element of the 2005 National Water Program Guidance is the description of a series of program activity measures (PAMs) that identify a minimum number of key program activities common to successful efforts to protect drinking water and overall water quality. Some of these PAMs are the responsibility of EPA headquarters, while others apply to EPA regions, and/or to states or tribes. The PAMs that are most critical to attaining clean and safe water goals include "target" attainment goals for 2005 and 2008. The National Water Program Guidance also identifies "straw targets" for each EPA region, and a defacto "national straw target."
About a dozen of the PAMs described in the National Water Program Guidance are applicable to tribes. These measures have been extracted from the National Water Program FY 2005 - 2008 Management System Matrix in the back of the Guidance and are included as Appendix B of this tribal Plan. They describe national activities that the Agency believes are most likely to result in public and environmental health improvements in Indian country by 2008. Additional actions and approaches toward attainment of these goals may be developed by EPA regions or individual tribes.
OW has created an internet site www.epa.gov/water/waterplan that provides access to the EPA Strategic Plan, the 2005 National Water Program Guidance, regional plans, this tribal Plan, and other information relevant to its strategic planning activities.
B. Specific Targets for Indian Country
Within several of the sub-objectives contained in the EPA Strategic Plan, specific, key targets for Indian country have been identified. These targets highlight areas in which EPA is emphasizing a priority need for improved tribal conditions. They indicate the types of outcomes that are expected as a result of Agency efforts to promote human health and water quality for tribes. The five key water issue areas that National Water Program activities specifically target for Indian country include:
Improved access to basic sanitation and safe drinking water4 (Strategic Plan Goal 2, Objective 1)
Improved drinking water safety (Strategic Plan Goal 2, Objective 1)
Improved overall water quality (Strategic Plan Goal 2, Objective 2)
Improved safety of fish for eating (Strategic Plan Goal 2, Objective 1)
Improved environmental health of tribal wetlands (Strategic Plan Goal 2, Objective 2)
4 This first strategic target reflects support, by EPA and the National Water Program, of global target language that was adopted by participant countries at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002. Attainment of this goal worldwide, including in Indian country, requires close, ongoing coordination among many federal agencies. That interagency coordination requirement sets the first strategic target apart from the other four, where primary federal leadership responsibility rests within EPA’s National Water Program.
This document is intended to further a common understanding, by federal, state, and tribal environmental managers, of the nature and importance of effective water programs to the environmental health and protection of Indian country. EPA’s National Water Program is committed to implementing this Plan, and to providing the national support that is critical for successful outcomes. This commitment includes:
Providing appropriate tools, including training and guidance documents, for implementing needed tribal water programs
Continuing National Water Program management support and involvement at the highest levels
Identifying and focusing resources appropriately to meet the commitments of this Plan 5
5 Grant funds available to tribes from the National Water Program increased from $16 million in FY 1992 to $68 million in the FY 1999 President’s Budget. In the same time period, GAP grants supporting cross-media tribal environmental capacity building increased from zero to $43 million.
EPA recognizes that resource constraints experienced by the Agency, tribes, and others may influence overall success in reaching the goals outlined in this Plan. Therefore, it is important that available resources be focused and used efficiently and effectively.
C. Tribal Water Programs
A wide range of water protection programs already exists in Indian country. Some tribes do not yet have a significant environmental presence, while others have developed environmental programs that are designed to meet specific tribal needs. Some tribes may be interested in assuming full responsibility for administering EPA water programs, while others may be unable or unwilling to do so for a variety of reasons.
The National Water Program will seek to ensure that tribal needs in Indian country are addressed by:
Assisting interested tribes in developing water protection programs
Helping tribes to further develop and implement their existing water programs
Conducting direct implementation (DI) of water protection programs in Indian country in a manner that is consistent with the EPA Indian Policy, in cases where tribes cannot or choose not to implement their own authorized programs
In certain cases, a combination of approaches may best maximize program implementation success. For example, an interim EPA presence may be required while a tribal water program is being developed. Or EPA involvement may fill "gaps" in tribal program coverage (for example, where partial program assumption is an option under federal law and Agency policy, and the tribe chooses to assume responsibility only for certain portions of an overall program).
In some instances, tribes may wish to enter into (or have already established) agreements with state and local governments, other agencies, and/or other tribes, to work cooperatively to implement environmental programs in Indian country. These partnerships may be especially useful when developing programs programs to protect watersheds that cross tribal, local, and state government jurisdictions. In these situations, the National Water Program encourages tribes to formalize their agreements with partners to ensure mutual understanding of obligations and expectations and protection of the rights of all parties.
When determining appropriate EPA support measures for water protection efforts in Indian country, tribes fall into three general categories:
Tribes that do not plan to assume program implementation responsibilities
Tribes that will work in partnership with EPA to implement programs
Tribes that have developed, or intend to develop, the capability to conduct their own water programs
The National Water Program’s implementation activities for tribes in the first two categories are expected to be similar. EPA will plan with tribes in category one that do not wish to assume any program implementation responsibilities, for appropriate, long term mechanisms for program implementation. EPA will plan with tribes in category two for a longterm implementation partnership. Priorities for implementation of water program components for individual tribes (e.g., wetland protection measures, water quality standards, underground injection controls) will be set on a case-by-case basis, with EPA and the tribe working together during the decision making process.
The National Water Program will work with tribes in category three that have developed, or intend to develop, capacity to assume responsibility for full water programs, to help them obtain program authorizations under the Clean Water Act (sometimes referred to as “treatment in a similar manner as a state,” or TAS), and to provide them with program approval as quickly as possible once authorization requirements are met. To reach this goal, EPA will provide technical assistance to tribes appropriate to their existing ability levels. In some instances, EPA and the tribe may enter a temporary implementation partnership, with a goal of developing and increasing the tribe’s capacity. While awaiting water program approval, high-risk human health and environmental priorities identified by EPA and the tribe are expected to be addressed as necessary by EPA, in accordance with the Agency’s responsibility for direct implementation and the EPA Indian Policy. Additional information on the processes tribes should follow to apply for TAS is provided on the internet at
www.epa.gov/indian/treatst.htm [BROKEN], and
The EPA National Water Program, consistent with federal law and EPA’s 1984 Indian Policy, will continue to play an important role in assisting interested tribes in program areas where tribes may be unwilling or unable to assume tribal authority over delegable water programs. The National Water Program also intends to continue its support for a wide variety of tribal capacity building and technical assistance activities not tied to specific statutory mandates.
D. Plan Purpose, Content, and Development
This Plan outlines critical components of tribal water programs and identifies implementation activities that the Agency believes will promote development of tribal programs and advancement within strategic target areas. Implementation includes assessing the extent to which projected activities achieve successful results as well as the extent to which they contribute to meeting the Agency’s overall goals and objectives.
EPA recognizes that a diversity of water programs now exists in Indian country. This document is intended to accommodate this diversity by providing a framework that can be used, by EPA and by tribes, across the spectrum of existing water programs, to promote healthier aquatic ecosystems and to improve human health protection as it relates to water resources.
The specific performance measures outlined in this document are designed for building and implementing water programs in Indian country. Baseline information on each performance measure (as of the date of this Plan) is provided when available. The sections entitled “Means of Attaining Strategic Targets and Meeting Program Activity Measures” outline specific activities that are designed to meet associated strategic and performance activity measure targets.
EPA’s National Water Program is committed to full realization of all applicable strategic goals in Indian country, as well as in the rest of the United States. With that in mind, it should be recognized that the targets in this Plan’s performance activity measures are incremental and are expected to lead to full goal achievement over time. The Plan uses the year 2008 as its first target year, because it is generally consistent with EPA’s Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) targets and is used in the EPA Strategic Plan.
It is important to emphasize that the tribal strategic targets and PAMs described in this Plan complement the national targets and measures of the EPA Strategic Plan. In the case of each tribal strategic target, improvements in Indian country are expected as a direct result of the implementation of the Agency’s overall, nationwide strategy. For example, the National Water Program’s strategic target to reduce the number of waterborne diseases attributable to swimming in recreational waters includes Indian country as well as all states and U.S. territories.
Consistent with the federal government’s trust responsibility to federally recognized tribes, National Water Program efforts to attain full implementation of water programs in Indian country are bound by the framework of Agency policy and guidance.
E. Establishing Water Program Priorities
Priority setting is critical to the success of any environmental program. Without it, neither EPA nor tribes can develop an adequate basis for identifying and justifying an emphasis on key program components. As partners, EPA’s National Water Program and the tribes have a long and varied list of programs available for implementation. Among them are water quality standards implementation, non-point source programs, point source permitting, wetlands protection, public water systems services, and underground injection control. EPA also recognizes the right of each tribe to set its environmental priorities. The efforts described in this Plan are intended to assist those tribes that desire assistance in setting water protection priorities and to highlight areas of national concern.
Both tribal and Agency capacity for environmental program development and implementation must be evaluated in any determination of realistic, attainable, and desired environmental goals for tribes. Based on national and tribal environmental and human health priorities, and with due consideration of available and projected resources, the National Water Program intends to work with tribes to establish priorities for specific tribal water programs. Through tribal environmental agreements (TEAs) or other similar agreements, the National Water Program and each interested tribe will commit to implementing specific individual water program activities that, together, will comprise a complete tribal water quality and drinking water protection effort.
Currently, EPA retains authority for directly implementing most existing federal water programs in Indian country. However, direct implementation (DI) resources are limited compared to existing needs. Therefore, the National Water Program, in collaboration with the tribes, intends to set priorities for DI based on risks to human health and the environment. These DI priorities will be established in TEAs, or in similar agreements with individual tribes, as was mentioned above. Until such a formal agreement is in place, the National Water Program, together with tribes, will determine priorities and ensure that Agency resources are used to address tribes’ most significant water related concerns.
EPA’s National Water Program recognizes that federal and tribal resource constraints require the establishment of shorter and longer term water program priorities that focus initially on carefully selected key program elements. The National Water Program encourages tribes to use a “three element” watershed approach as an organizing construct wherever practicable. These three elements include:
Monitoring and assessing water quality
Implementing water quality and drinking water standards
Improving infrastructure, including such things as construction, operation, and maintenance of wastewater and drinking water systems
EPA is not suggesting that other elements can or should be ignored, or that these elements should be carried out sequentially. The National Water Program considers these elements to be basic building blocks that provide a strong foundation for efforts to protect human health and aquatic ecosystems in Indian country.
IV. WATER PROGRAMS IN INDIAN COUNTRY: PRIORITIES AND STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS
The tribal strategic targets described in this section are derived directly from target language used in the EPA Strategic Plan. The program activity measure (PAM) language following the targets defines milestones that may be expected when adequate progress is being made toward target goals. It is intended that National Water Program personnel, both at headquarters and in the regions, working in partnership with tribes, will carefully consider these tribal strategic targets and PAMs and work to ensure that the resources of the National Water Program are used in ways that will allow effective measurement of progress and ultimate attainment of targets.
A. Global Targets with Tribal Impacts
In 2002, participants at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa, adopted the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goal of reducing the number of people worldwide who lack access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by half, by the year 2015.6 Secretary of State Colin Powell and EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman participated as U.S. representatives to the Summit. The U.S. government has committed to supporting UN efforts to achieve this Millennium Development Goal, and EPA has affirmed its support by incorporating Goal language into the 2003 - 2008 EPA Strategic Plan as an Agency target, to be achieved by 2015.
6 United Nations. 2002. Report of the World Summit on Sustainable Development: Johannesburg, South Africa, 26 August - 4 September, 2002. New York: United Nations
EPA lacks the comprehensive statutory and funding authorities that are necessary to provide all of the infrastructure that will be required to meet the Millenium Development Goal in Indian country.
However, in addition to EPA, many other federal agencies, with a variety of statutory and funding authorities, have infrastructure development and service responsibilities in Indian country and elsewhere throughout the United States. Therefore, EPA is facilitating a collaborative interagency effort to develop a coordinated federal solution to the authorities issue, and provide the infrastructure development that will be needed to meet this Millennium Development Goal in Indian country.
Global Strategic Target 1:
Access to Basic Sanitation
- By 2015, in coordination with other federal partners, reduce by 50 percent the number of households on tribal lands lacking access to basic sanitation.
2000 Baseline: Indian Health Service data indicating 71,000 households on tribal lands lack access to basic sanitation.7
7 Indian Health Service. 2001. The Sanitation Facilities Construction Program of the Indian Health Service, Public Law 86-121 Annual Report for 2001. Bethesda, MD: IHS. The 2000 baseline number includes Alaska Native village households.
Program Activity Measures
No PAMs relate specifically to this global strategic target.
Means of Attaining Strategic Targets and Meeting Program Activity Measures
To make progress toward reaching this worldwide basic sanitation strategic target in Indian country, OW and the National Water Program will take the following actions:
Interagency Cooperation: The National Indian Program and the National Water Program will work with other federal agencies (e.g., through the federal infrastructure task force established by the National American Indian Housing Council) to develop a coordinated approach to improve access to basic sanitation. A coordinated interagency strategy is expected to be developed by 2005, with implementation slated to begin in 2006.
Funding: The Office of Wastewater Management, in partnership with EPA’s regional offices, will continue to support the funding of wastewater treatment systems in Indian country through setaside funds from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program, the Alaskan Native Village and Rural Village Grant Program, and the Border Environmental Infrastructure Fund.
Utility Support Team: Region 8 (MT, ND, SD, WY, UT, CO) will continue to support a Utility Support Team to bolster management and operation of tribal public services (drinking water, wastewater treatment, and solid waste disposal). The Utility Support Team initiative is charged with improving tribal utility management by helping create revenue streams, implementing budget planning procedures, and ensuring proper operation and maintenance protocols.
Global Strategic Target 2:
Access to Safe Drinking Water
By 2015, in coordination with other federal agencies, reduce by 50 percent the number of households on tribal lands lacking access to safe drinking water.
2000 Baseline: Indian Health Service data indicating 31,000 homes on tribal lands lack access to safe drinking water.8
Program Activity Measures
No PAMs relate specifically to this global strategic target.
Means of Attaining Strategic Targets and Meeting Program Activity Measures
To make progress toward reaching this global safe drinking water strategic target in Indian country, OW and the National Water Program will take the following actions:
Interagency Coordination: The National Water Program and the National Indian Program will work with other federal agencies (e.g., through the federal infrastructure task force established by the National American Indian Housing Council) to develop a coordinated approach to improve access to safe drinking water. A coordinated interagency strategy is expected to be developed in 2005, with implementation slated to begin in 2006.
B. Specific Tribal Targets from EPA’s National Water Program
Because access to safe drinking water is critical to human health, EPA’s National Water Program has the following national drinking water objective:
By 2008, 95 percent of the population served by community water systems will receive drinking water that meets all applicable health-based drinking water standards through effective water treatment and source water protection.9 This objective applies across the United States, without exception.
9 2003 - 2008 EPA Strategic Plan
Approximately 560,000 people get their tap water from the 980 public water systems in Indian country. Routine data analyses of the Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS) have revealed a degree of non-reporting of violations of health based drinking water standards and of violations of regulatory monitoring and reporting requirements. As a consequence of these data issues, the baseline compliance statistic may be lower than reported. EPA is currently working to improve the SDWIS database. Even as this work continues, SDWIS remains the best source of national information on compliance with the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Tribal Strategic Target 1:
By 2008, 95 percent of the population served by community water systems in Indian country will receive drinking water that meets all applicable, health-based drinking water standards.
2002 Baseline: 91.1 percent of the population served by systems. Year-to-year performance is expected to change as new standards take effect.
Program Activity Measures
By December 2004, and each year thereafter, all tribal community water systems will have undergone a sanitary survey within the previous three years.
Baseline: Not applicable. 2005 national straw target: 80 percent. 2008 target: 100 percent.
Tracking of percentage of tribal water systems that have completed a source water assessment that follows national guidelines will continue.
Baseline: December 2001: Tribal community water systems with source water assessments in place: 21 percent. As of December 2001, in the nine EPA regions with federally recognized tribes, tribal community systems with completed source water assessments in place ranged from 84 percent to 0 percent.
Means of Attaining Strategic Targets and Meeting Program Activity Measures
Implement Drinking Water Regulations
Drinking Water Revolving Fund Set-Aside: OGWDW and the EPA regional offices will continue to work together to support the funding of public drinking water systems in Indian country through set-aside funds from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Program.
Direct Implementation: OGWDW and the regional offices will continue to support DI by the EPA regional offices of the Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) program in Indian country or to assist in building tribal capacity for implementing this program by providing grant funding, technical assistance and training, and informational publications to interested tribes.
Sanitary Surveys: OGWDW will continue to support ongoing efforts by EPA regional offices to conduct sanitary surveys in Indian country.
Protect Source Waters
UIC Grants: A total of $997,000 in grant funds will be provided to the regions annually to support direct implementation by EPA of the Underground Injection Control (UIC) grant program in Indian country. This includes $474,000 to help protect groundwater-based community water systems through identification and permitting/closure of Class V injection wells in source water and other vulnerable areas. The funding is also used by EPA regions to provide technical support to tribes through circuit rider programs, workshops, and other vehicles. In addition, EPA regional offices continue to receive funds to directly implement UIC programs for all classes (I, II, III, IV, and V) of injection wells in Indian country as part of their regular, annual budget allotment.
Tribal UIC Program Capacity: EPA regions will work directly with tribes to assist in building tribal UIC program capacity through funding, training, and technical assistance, and will support tribal primacy for UIC programs, consistent with funding levels and Agency regulations.
Funding Support for Public Water System Supervision on Tribal Lands, including Source Water Assessment Programs (SWAP): PWSS funding allotments are provided to EPA regions to support tribal operator certification, capacity development, direct program implementation, drinking water infrastructure (through a special tribal set-aside grant program), and source water assessment and protection projects. The total annual tribal PWSS SWAP allotment is approximately $933,000. This funding may be used by the regions to provide such things as:
— Direct grants to tribes to conduct source water assessments
— Information and technical training on conducting assessments
— Site visits and outreach
Tribal Source Water Protection Workshops and Training Materials: Training materials and other resources to assist tribes with their source water protection efforts include:
— Source Water Assessment and Protection Workshop Guide, 2nd Edition. Ten tribal workshops were held to field-test the effectiveness of this Guide from the Groundwater Foundation. One outcome of this field test was the development of a self-sustaining source water assessment and protection training program. Tribes or tribal organizations may learn more about the training on the Groundwater Foundation ’s Web site www.groundwater.org/gi/swap/swap.html , or by contacting the Groundwater Foundation directly at 800 858-4844.
— Protecting Drinking Water: A Workbook for Tribes. The Water Education Foundation developed this tribal source water workbook to provide technical guidelines on conducting source water assessments. A video is also available to tribes that outlines the goal and purpose of source water protection. The workbook may be downloaded from the Water Education Foundation Web site www.water-ed.org and the video may be obtained by contacting the Water Education Foundation at 916 444-6240.
— The online Drinking Water Academy has resources available to tribes for source water protection and best management practices training. These may be found at www.epa.gov/safewater/dwa.html.
— The Watershed Academy has resources that are useful to tribes working on protecting surface water sources of drinking water. These resources can be found at www.epa.gov/owow/watershed/wacademy.
— OGWDW has sponsored source water protection training workshops for tribes in several regions and intends to continue support for this kind of training.
— EPA regional offices support tribal efforts to protect source waters by conducting inspections and writing permits, working with other federal agencies to identify Class V UIC wells and ensuring that those wells comply with federal regulations.
EPA records indicate that 116 tribes have received Section 106 Clean Water Act grant funding 10 to engage in water quality monitoring activities. However, very few tribes have submitted information for the Agency’s report on water quality conditions (305(b)),11 leaving the Agency with limited information on the status of tribal water quality. The National Water Program believes that comprehensive monitoring, which provides a basis for identifying the current water quality conditions, determining the nature of pollutants, and establishing priorities for water quality protection, is essential to the protection of water resources in Indian country.
10 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water. 2003. Protecting Public Health and Water Resources in Indian County: Water Program Status as of June 30, 2003.
As of December 2003, approximately 85 tribes had EPA approved non-point source assessments and management plans, and 23 tribes had water quality standards effective under the Clean Water Act, but no tribes were authorized to implement National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting.12 EPA is committed to working with tribes to help them identify water quality issues, to develop and implement programs to address areas of concern, and to promote improved surface water environments in Indian country.
Tribal Strategic Target 2:
Improved Water Quality
By 2008, improve water quality in Indian country at not fewer than 90 of the monitoring stations in tribal waters for which baseline data are available (i.e., show at least a 10 percent improvement for each of four key parameters: total nitrogen, total phosphorous, dissolved oxygen, and fecal coliform).
2002 Baseline: Four key parameters available at 900 sampling stations in Indian country.
Program Activity Measure:
By 2008, increase the number of tribes with EPA approved water quality standards to 33.
OWM has management responsibility for CWA Section 106 grants that fund activities that support the water quality standards PAM, while the Office of Science and Technology has lead responsibility for working with tribes to increase the number of tribes with EPA approved water quality standards.
Program Activity Measure:
By 2008, 40 percent of tribes currently receiving CWA section 106 funding will have a comprehensive monitoring program strategy.
By 2008, 20 percent of tribes currently receiving CWA section 106 funding will have their water quality data in a system accessible for storing in the STORET (STOrage and RETrieval) database.
By 2008, 10 percent of tribes that currently receive section 106 funding will be involved in cooperative approaches with states and/or EPA to develop watershed-based plans and/or total maximum daily load allocations (TMDLs) to address polluted water concerns.
OWM has management responsibility for CWA Section 106 grants that fund activities that support the monitoring, STORET, and TMDL program activity measures described above. However, OWOW has lead responsibility for working with tribes to implement these measures.
Program Activity Measure:
90 percent of all NPDES permits across the nation are current. Beginning in 2005, 95 percent of all high priority permits will also be current. Permits for facilities in Indian country will meet the same standard/schedule.
Means of Attaining Strategic Targets and Meeting Program Activity Measures:
Develop NPDES Promotion Measures
Examine current regional performance of NPDES permitting in Indian country: Currently, no tribes have NPDES permitting authority. EPA regional offices issue NPDES permits in Indian country. According to OWM’s most recent analysis of permits in Indian country, as of November 2003, 65 percent of existing permits were current. In the Program Integrity Management System (PIMS) analysis, which is presently taking place under OWM’s Permitting for Environmental Results (PER) Strategy, regional performance on NPDES permitting in Indian country is being examined. The information provided by the analysis will enable OWM to develop measures to promote NPDES permit issuance in Indian country.
Support for NPDES Permitting in Indian country: In FY 2005, OWM intends to give EPA regional offices additional funding to support the issuance of NPDES permits in Indian country.
Develop Monitoring and Assessment Programs
Technical Training and Assessment: OWOW will establish workshops and training programs for tribes to increase their capacity in the areas of water quality monitoring, volunteer monitoring and assessments, and development and implementation of TMDLs.
Develop and Implement Water Quality Standards
Water Quality Standards Program Authorization: OST will continue to assist tribes in developing applications for authorization for the water quality standards program under Section 303 of the Clean Water Act (generally referred to as “treatment in a manner similar to a state,” or TAS).
Section 401 Certification Authority: OWOW will continue to assist tribes with CWA Section 401 certification procedures and ordinances, including providing sample documents to improve tribal recognition of how this section of the Act relates to water quality standards.
Technical Assistance and Training: OST will continue to provide technical assistance and specialized training to help tribes develop and receive EPA approval of their own water quality standards.
Outreach and Consultation: OST will continue outreach and consultation with tribes to discuss approaches for expanding water quality standards coverage in Indian country, including the possible promulgation of federal standards for certain waters in Indian country.
Direct Implementation: OST will continue to support use of direct implementation tribal cooperative agreements (DITCAs) and other mechanisms to assist in the development of water quality standards that protect human health and the environment in Indian country.
Informational Materials: OST will continue to highlight the benefits of water quality standards and publicize the experiences of tribes with water quality standards by publishing case studies, success stories, and other informational materials in various venues, including on the Web.
Promote Watershed Management
Targeted Watershed Initiative: For at least a decade, tribes have played active roles in watershed assessment, planning, and management. Through its “Targeted Watershed Initiative” competitive grants program, OWOW continues to encourage tribes and others to implement collaborative, community driven approaches to meeting national clean water goals. In fiscal years 2003 and 2004, more than $2.5 million was awarded for watershed management in Indian country. In 2004, about one third of the 115 proposals received were submitted by tribes. For additional information on this program, see: www.epa.gov/owow/watershed/initiative .
Develop and Implement Effective Watershed-Based Plans
Watershed-Based Planning: By 2008, each Indian tribe with a land base of between 100 and 1,000 square miles (64,000 to 640,000 acres) will have developed and begun to implement at least one watershed-based plan. Tribes with land areas of more than 1,000 square miles (640,000 acres) will have developed and begun implementing at least two watershed-based plans.
Watershed-based plans consist of nine key components that are necessary to make progress toward remediating waters impaired by nonpoint source pollution. A list of these components can be found in EPA’s FY 2004 Nonpoint Source Program and Grants Guidelines for States and Territories at www.epa.gov/owow/nps/cwact.html.
In 2000, tribes actively participated with OWOW to develop an assessment methodology for watersheds in Indian country. The resulting document, Tribal Watershed Analysis and Management—Guide for Tribes, EPA841-B-00-008, September 2000, remains available from the National Water Program.
Training: OWOW continues to provide training support for tribal representatives who are interested in learning how to implement protective TMDLs.
The National Water Program continues to encourage tribal training in watershed management through EPA’s Watershed Academy online training courses, and through conferences, and workshops. In 2004, water program media offices provided tribal travel scholarships to the River Rally, in Wintergreen, Virginia. Participants were provided with opportunities for peer-to-peer informational exchanges with watershed management organizations across the country. Topics covered included technical assistance opportunities and assistance with capacity building efforts. As a result of the 2004 tribal participation in the River Rally, a tribal caucus has been formed to promote tribal involvement with other watershed organizations.
Control Nonpoint Source Pollution
Funding: The National Water Program continues to manage a contract that enables EPA regions to provide assistance to tribes to develop nonpoint source assessment reports and management plans.
Nonpoint Source Control Workshops: OWOW and the regional offices will continue to provide funding support and training to tribes on the development and implementation of nonpoint source management programs and assessments. As tribal expertise in nonpoint source runoff grows, workshops will evolve to include training on the development and implementation of watershed-based water quality protection plans.
Funding: OWOW will support EPA’s efforts to permanently remove the Clean Water Act section 518 funding cap on monies associated with the tribal nonpoint source grant program.
PROMOTING FISHABLE WATERS
Some of the toxic contaminants that enter water bodies move up the food chain and accumulate in fish tissues at levels that make the fish unsafe for human consumption. Nationally, states and tribes report that fish consumption advisories have been issued for some 14 percent of river miles and 28 percent of lake acres. Shellfish can also accumulate disease-causing microorganisms and toxic algae. Tribal community members who follow traditional diets and lifeways may face greater risk from locally caught fish than do members of the general population, due to the predominance of these fish and shellfish in their diets. In addition, in keeping with tradition and culture, tribal people may eat internal organs and fatty tissues, where pollutants tend to bioaccumulate and present additional risk.
Mercury is the most commonly cited contaminant in fish consumption advisories across the country. More than 12 million lake acres and 430 thousand river miles are currently under mercury advisories. The primary source of mercury contamination in fish is deposition of atmospheric mercury, emitted from incinerators, coal fired utilities, and other sources.
Tribal Strategic Target 3:
- By 2008, improve the quality of water and sediments to safely allow increased consumption of fish and shellfish.
Program Activity Measure
- Track increases in the number of tribal programs that have adopted and applied the national fish advisory guidance and are making fish advisory determinations for tribal waters.
Means of Attaining Strategic Targets and Meeting Program Activity Measures
Mercury Emission Regulations: EPA has issued technology-based mercury emission control rules for waste incinerators. These regulations are expected to reduce emissions from medical, municipal, and hazardous waste incinerators by 94 percent, 90 percent, and 50 percent, respectively, and to reduce overall mercury emissions from all domestic sources by 42 percent from 1990 levels.
Lifting of Fish Advisories: EPA has assessed the degree to which these emission reductions will alleviate the fish mercury contamination problem in the United States, including in Indian country, and estimates that 3 percent of all waters with mercury fish advisories will see those advisories lifted or made less stringent by calendar year 2008. The Agency expects additional positive fish advisory changes in outlying years, as a result of the new incinerator regulations.
Fish Contaminant Forum and Training Opportunities: OST will continue to invite tribes to attend the Annual National Forum on Contaminants in Fish. Tribal attendees will be encouraged to participate in training opportunities at the forum, which will next be held in September 2005.
National Survey of Advisory Programs: OST will continue to include tribes whose waters are under fish consumption advisories in its annual National Survey of Advisory Programs.
Information Sharing: OST will continue to utilize tribal gatherings such as the National Tribal Conference on Environmental Management, the annual National Tribal Environmental Council conference, regional tribal gatherings, and meetings and conferences sponsored by other federal agencies to provide tribes with up to date information on national progress toward the attainment of EPA’s "fishable waters" and "edible fish" goals.
The United States has lost more than 115 million acres of wetlands nationwide. While many programs have slowed the rate of wetland loss, the United States still loses 58,000 acres annually. Many of the wetlands that remain are being degraded by excessive sedimentation, nutrient over-enrichment, pesticide run-off, invasive species, fragmentation, and increasing development demands. Wetlands provide habitat for fish and wildlife, contribute to biological diversity and productivity, help prevent flooding, and help protect water quality. In Indian country, wetlands are often critical to the life cycles of plants and animals that are central to the cultural and spiritual practices of tribal communities.
Tribal Strategic Target 4:
By 2008, working with all partners (including tribes), achieve a net increase of 400,000 acres of wetlands in the United States, with success determinations focused on biological and functional measures.
Program Activity Measure
By 2008, 30 percent of tribes (170 tribes) will have participated in watershed-based wetlands and stream corridor projects.
Means of Attaining Strategic Targets and Meeting Program Activity Measures
Fund Tribal Programs for Wetland Protection
GAP and CWA Section 106: EPA will continue to provide GAP and CWA Section 106 funding, both of which may be directed to tribal wetlands assessments as well as to other water resource concerns.
Funding Through the 104(b)(3) Wetland Program Development Grant Program: Each year, EPA issues a request for proposals to develop, enhance, and refine programs to protect and restore wetlands. This annual competition awards nearly $15 million in grants to state, tribal, and local organizations as well as national non-profits. EPA regions are encouraged to target 15 percent of their grant funding for tribes. Typical grant awards range between $10,000 to $500,000.
Funding Through the Five Star Restoration Grant Program: EPA works in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Association of Counties, the Wildlife Habitat Council, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration on the Five Star Restoration Program. Five Star brings together state, tribal, and local government agencies, students, conservation corps, citizen groups, corporations, and landowners to provide environmental education and training through projects that restore wetlands and stream corridor projects. Funding levels are from $5,000 to $20,000, with $10,000 as the average amount per project.
Increase Technical Assistance
- Strengthening Tribal Wetland Programs: EPA endeavors to increase tribal participation in workshops, training, national meetings, and symposia on wetland issues. Increased participation will help foster better wetland protection in Indian country by encouraging a tribe-to-tribe exchange of experiences and by providing opportunities for tribes to share expertise on what does and does not work. The following are examples of opportunities for tribal participation:
— National Wetland’s Policy Symposium: Two tribal representatives participated in this June 25, 2004 meeting. They and other tribal representatives will be actively included in any subsequent initiatives.
— Clean Water Act’s section 404 regulatory program training/workshop, hosted annually by EPA. The 2004 training was held in Seattle, Washington, and tribes were encouraged to attend. Information and registration materials for upcoming training can be found at www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands. Future training opportunities will also be posted on the Internet.
— Association of State Wetland Managers (ASWM) national meetings: Tribes will be invited to these semi-annual meetings and are encouraged to attend and participate.
— EPA will provide scholarship money to The Conservation Fund, to facilitate tribal participation in the National Mitigation Banking conference.
— Tribal representation is encouraged at EPA’s National Wetland Monitoring Meeting. The Agency hopes for active participation by at least three federally recognized tribes.
V. TRAINING FOR OFFICE OF WATER EMPLOYEES
EPA headquarters and regional offices are responsible for developing and implementing appropriate employee training programs to ensure that managers and staff understand how to promote effective working relationships with tribal governments. These training programs are meant to ensure that EPA employees have the necessary sensitivity, knowledge, and understanding of Indian affairs to facilitate communication between the Agency and tribal representatives.
OW began its training program in the first quarter of fiscal year 1998. The training utilizes the Working Effectively with Tribal Governments training materials developed by the National Indian Program in AIEO. A four-hour intensive course is offered for OW managers, and full-day training is provided for staff. OW has sponsored several of these training courses. National Water Program personnel have participated in similar training, offered by AIEO and other EPA offices.
OW intends to continue to provide classroomstyle training for its managers and staff. OW tribal program coordinators, located in the four water media offices (OWM, OGWDW, OWOW, and OST), will also monitor participation and modify training materials as necessary to meet the specific information needs of managers and staff. In addition, OW began offering computerized training courses in late 2004.
VI. NEXT STEPS
The EPA National Water Program believes that activities identified in this document will help protect human health and the environment in Indian country and contribute to the attainment of the Agency’s goal of clean and safe water throughout the United States. To help ensure that these activities are successfully implemented and completed, and that they contribute, as expected, to meeting the goals and objectives outlined in the Plan, implementation oversight will be incorporated into OW’s ongoing internal processes, including planning, budgeting, and management.
EPA’s regional offices and OW will make annual commitments against, and report on progress towards, the Plan’s goals, as part of the National Water Program’s management agreement process. Progress against EPA regional and headquarters commitments will be reviewed at mid-year and/or at the end of each fiscal year. A standing committee comprised of EPA headquarters and regional senior management personnel will be responsible for reviewing the Plan’s implementation and determining when revision may be needed. Based on committee reviews and determinations, the National Water Program will identify additional steps that may be needed to achieve the Plan’s goals, seek ways to focus resources for Plan implementation, refine priorities through the annual commitment process, and revise the Plan as necessary.
This OW Plan is intended as a tool for efficient and effective program development. It provides the National Water Program with guidance for integrating and leveraging resources and will help the Agency to optimize resource impacts and minimize duplication of efforts across programs.
This document outlines an ambitious plan for the protection of water quality in Indian country. OW’s National Water Program has a central role in ensuring that appropriate and timely milestones along the path toward clean water and healthy aquatic ecosystems are set and then met. This Plan sets forth some fundamental goals for water protection efforts in Indian country and outlines the National Water Program’s commitment to the protection of tribal water resources. However, EPA recognizes that the scope of this undertaking is enormous and beyond the effective capacity of the National Water Program alone.
EPA is committed to working in close partnership with tribes to protect the waters of their homelands. We know that tribes, with their close ties to the bounty of the earth, have an especially unique stake in the protection of their natural resources. Members of tribal communities exhibit a profound sense of responsibility as guardians of the environment, in ways that others may not. The protection their stewardship affords to our environment extends beyond today, and far into the future.
EPA anticipates the continuation of its discussions with tribes, and the further development and refinement of water protection goals and related activities for Indian country. The Agency believes that a sustained, collaborative federal-tribal partnership will maximize the effective use of available funding and provide the strongest opportunities for successful water protection for tribal communities.