Press release from the EPA (Lenexa, Kan., Aug. 15, 2019) – Tribal leaders of the Meskwaki Nation joined U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 officials in a signing ceremony today as the Tribe assumes responsibilities to administer the Clean Water Act’s Water Quality Standards and Certification programs.
EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford and Meskwaki Chairman Anthony Waseskuk signed certificates at the Meskwaki Nation Settlement, located northeast of Des Moines between U.S. Highway 30 and the Iowa River.
“Today, we celebrate the Meskwaki Nation’s achievement as the first tribe in Region 7 to receive the authority to administer the Clean Water Act’s water quality standards and certification programs,” said Gulliford. “The Meskwaki Nation’s leadership and commitment to water quality efforts light a path for others to follow.”
“The Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa is honored to be joined by our friends, neighbors and partners in celebrating this historic moment of achieving Treatment as State (TAS) authority for development of Water Quality Standards (WQS),” said Jarrett Pfrimmer, director of Natural Resources. “Many years of hard work from community members, staff, EPA, and multiple valued partners have made the passing of this milestone possible. We look forward to continuing this hard work in the company and counsel of these and many more partners as we begin developing Tribal WQS and an Iowa River Watershed Consortium. Through these collaborative ventures, we hope to improve the quality of not only our waters, but those of our neighbors throughout the watershed.”
The Meskwaki Nation applied to EPA for Treatment in a Similar Manner as a State (TAS) for the Clean Water Act Section 303(c) Water Quality Standards and 401 Certification programs for all currently held tribal trust lands. After carefully reviewing the Tribe’s application, EPA determined that the Meskwaki Nation met the necessary requirements and approved their application for TAS to administer these programs.
With this authority, the Meskwaki Nation can develop water quality standards for waterways within their reservation, similar to the process used by states under the Clean Water Act. After the Tribe develops the standards, and EPA approves, the Tribe will then administer surface water quality standards, building upon existing successful environmental programs.
Several federal environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, authorize EPA to treat eligible, federally recognized Indian tribes in a similar manner as a state for managing certain environmental programs. The requirements for applying for TAS are that the tribe must be federally recognized; have a governing body carrying out substantial governmental duties and powers; have appropriate authority; and be capable of carrying out the functions of the program.
For more information on Treatment as a State, and a list of tribes with the same designation, please visit EPA’s website.