Proposed Rule - Revised Interpretation of Clean Water Act Tribal Provision


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 42 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.

How To Provide Comments on the Proposal

EPA will accept public comments on the proposal through October 6, 2015 at 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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Post-Proposal Outreach (Completed)

EPA hosted a webinar for the public on Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 2:00-3:30 p.m. EDT.

Slides used in webinar

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

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Pre-Proposal Outreach (Completed)

Tribal Consultation and Coordination

In EPA's April 18, 2014 letter to tribal leaders, 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, 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


Treatment in the same manner as a State (TAS) Procedures for Clean Water Act Regulatory Programs

EPA Guidance

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