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EPA wants Native American tribes to implement water quality standards equivalent to the Clean Water Act's requirements

The impact of the USEPA proposal on Native American reservations in Michigan is uncertain. Twelve Michigan tribes could be affected by the proposal.
Lester Graham
/
Michigan Radio
The impact of the U.S. EPA proposal on Native American reservations in Michigan is uncertain. Twelve Michigan tribes could be affected by the proposal.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) is proposing new federal baseline water quality standards for Native American tribes that do not meet the basic requirements of the Clean Water Act.

It would establish water protections for more than 250 tribes. Forty seven tribes already have water quality standards. The U.S. EPA says its proposal would mean nearly two million acres of lakes, reservoirs and other waters within reservations would be protected.

Twenty tribes in the Great Lakes region — 12 of them in Michigan — could be affected by the proposal. The impact of the EPA proposal on Native American reservations in Michigan is unclear.

The EPA says it will deal with each tribe on a case by case basis. In a news release, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said, "...all people deserve access to clean, safe water," calling the proposal a step forward in work with tribal governments to ensure water bodies are protected.

The National Tribal Water Council supports the EPA proposal.

Although, some of its leaders say most tribes don’t have the programs and don't have the funding to meet the standards. They say the federal government should consult with each tribe and support them with the money needed for implementation and enforcement.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.