The Pueblo of Santa Ana’s water-quality programs are now federally certified, meaning the tribe can administer them autonomously under the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on July 22.
The 800-member tribe is the 50th out of the nation’s 567 federally recognized tribes to be granted such authority, the EPA said in announcing the move at the Regional Tribal Operations Committee (RTOC) meeting at the Pueblo of Isleta, New Mexico.
“This is an important achievement for the Pueblo of Santa Ana as they protect waters on their lands which are integral to daily life and their rich cultural heritage,” said EPA regional administrator Ron Curry in a statement. “EPA’s 1984 Indian Policy continues to represent a bold statement on the commitment to our partnership with federally recognized Indian tribes and to tribal self-governance in implementing environmental protection programs. EPA remains fully committed to engaging tribes as sovereign governments with a right to self-governance.”
The tribe’s Water Resources Division falls under jurisdiction of its Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and consists of five programs: Watershed Protection, Safety of Dams, Water Quality, Water Rights, and Hydrology, according to the Water Resources web page. The Water Quality Program involves working with the tribal government to plan water use and protect the resources involved, as well as involving tribal members in monitoring activities.
“Stakeholder involvement in this program is critical, and annual water quality reports are distributed on the Pueblo via the Safe Drinking Water Act mandated Consumer Confidence Report,” the tribe’s page says. “The Water Quality Program actively participates in environmental education through outreach with the youth and elders of the Pueblo of Santa Ana. These programs promote awareness of water quality issues through hands-on activities and interactive discussions.”
Under the Clean Water Act designation the Pueblo will continue to protect public health, aquatic life and wildlife over a 78,000-acre area, including parts of the Rio Grande, the Rio Jemez and other water bodies, the EPA said. To qualify for the federal certification, a tribe must be federally recognized and have a governing body that has the jurisdiction and capability of administering such a program, the EPA said.