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Water: State, Tribal & Territorial Standards

Proposed Rule: Revised Interpretation of Clean Water Act Tribal Provision

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Waters on the majority of Indian reservations do not have water quality standards under the Clean Water Act to protect human health and the environment. Only 40 of the more than 300 federally recognized tribes with reservations have completed the process of obtaining EPA's approval to be treated in a manner similar to a state (TAS), and adopting standards for their waters that EPA has approved.

EPA proposes to streamline how tribes apply for TAS for the water quality standards program and other Clean Water Act regulatory programs. The proposal would reduce the burden on applicant tribes and advance cooperative federalism by facilitating tribal involvement in the protection of reservation water quality as intended by Congress.

Proposed Interpretive Rule Federal Register Notice | Print Version (PDF) (12 pp, 250K) (August 7, 2015)

Upcoming Outreach

EPA will host a webinar for the public on Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 2:00-3:30 p.m. EDT. The webinar will be held using Adobe Connect®. Register for the webinar online, or to register by phone, please call: Erin Cabral at 508-833-6600. After your registration has been submitted, you will receive an email confirmation that includes the link to the Adobe session and the teleconference number to call for the webinar audio.  Provisions are available for those who wish to participate by telephone only.

Following registration and within one week of the webinar, you will receive an email with information for accessing the webinar on the day of the event.

EPA is contacting tribal governments, states and state associations separately to provide opportunities for consultation and coordination.

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How To Provide Comments on the Proposal

EPA will accept public comments on the proposal through October 6, 2015 at Regulations.gov. Please use Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2014-0461. See the Federal Register Notice for further instructions for providing comments.

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Pre-Proposal Outreach (Completed)

Tribal Consultation and Coordination

In EPA's April 18, 2014 letter to tribal leaders (PDF) (4 pp, 62K), EPA initiated consultation and coordination with federally-recognized Indian tribes concerning the potential reinterpretation of Clean Water Act provisions regarding treatment of tribes in a manner similar to a state (TAS).


On May 22 and 28, 2014, EPA held two tribes-only consultation and coordination Webinars. For more information, see the docket for this rulemaking.

Intergovernmental Consultation and Coordination

In EPA's June 18, 2014, letter to Intergovernmental Associations (PDF) (5 pp, 1MB), EPA invited input from these organizations.

On July 8, 2014, EPA discussed a presentation titled "Potential Reinterpretation of a Clean Water Act Provision Regarding Tribal Eligibility to Administer Regulatory Programs" with these organizations. For more information, see the docket for this rulemaking.

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Reference Materials


TAS Regulations

EPA Guidance

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