The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the approval of the Pala Band of Mission Indians’ application for “treatment in a similar manner as a state” under the federal Clean Water Act. Tomás Torres, EPA water division director for the Pacific Southwest, presented the signed Certificate of Achievement to Tribal Water Resources Specialist Heidi Brow in a ceremony at the Regional Tribal Operations Committee meeting in San Francisco.
“I am pleased to announce that the Pala Band of Mission Indians will now administer their own program to protect their rivers and streams under the Clean Water Act,” said Torres. “The San Luis Rey River and other waters on tribal land are integral to the tribe’s health and heritage.”
EPA’s decision promotes tribal self-government, empowering the tribe to develop water quality standards and to issue water quality certifications for federal actions on their lands in order to protect tribal waters, which include the San Luis Rey River and tributaries. The Pala Tribe is the seventh tribe in California to gain this authority.
The Pala Tribe can now develop water quality standards for their waters within the Tribe’s Reservation, similar to the process used by states under Sections 303 and 401 of the Clean Water Act. After the Tribe develops and EPA approves the standards, the Pala Tribe will administer surface water quality standards, building upon existing successful environmental programs run by the Pala Environmental Department.
The Pala Indian Reservation is located in northern San Diego County approximately 50 miles northeast of the city of San Diego.
For more information on “treatment in a similar manner as a state,” and for a list of tribes with the same designation, visit www.epa.gov/wqs-tech/epa-approvals-tribal-water-quality-standards.
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency