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Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe approved by EPA to administer Clean Water Act programs

UPDATED: Tue., April 5, 2022

By Natasha Brennan Tacoma News Tribune

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe can now administer the Clean Water Act’s water quality standards and certification programs on reservation and trust lands, collectively covering almost 645 acres near the Dungeness River and Sequim Bay in Western Washington.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved the tribe’s application, authorizing the tribe to assume Clean Water Act authority to manage and protect all surface waters within its reservation and trust lands – including lands held in trust by the federal government located outside of the reservation. The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal community is located on the northern Olympic Peninsula, approximately 70 miles northwest of the city of Seattle.

“Requiring and achieving excellent water quality is important for our Tribal treaty resources, jurisdiction authority and essential for our citizen health,” Tribal Chair and CEO of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe W. Ron Allen said in a news release. “The Tribe is proud of our environmental stewardship and is pleased to achieve this federal recognition of ‘Treatment as a State’ for water quality standards.”

In October 2021, the tribe applied to the EPA for “Treatment in a Similar Manner to a State,” which authorizes the EPA to treat eligible federally recognized tribes in a similar manner as a state government in implementing and managing certain environmental programs, like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.

“The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe has long maintained strong environmental programs, and their commitment to a strong water quality program was evident in their application for Treatment in a Similar Manner as a State,” said Dan Opalski, director of EPA’s Water Division in Seattle in a news release. “We look forward to the Tribe’s continued engagement with the EPA, the state of Washington and stakeholders in the area as they implement their new authorities.”

The EPA’s action will enable the Tribe to set water quality goals and standards – the regulatory and scientific foundation for protecting water quality – for all water bodies within the reservation and trust lands. After those standards are reviewed and approved by EPA, all applicable water quality standards will be incorporated into Clean Water Act-permitted discharges into reservation waters.

The EPA’s approval does not alter or modify water quality standards outside of the reservation and trust Lands.

The tribe was previously approved by the EPA for “Treatment in a Similar Manner to a State” status for the Clean Water Act’s Water Pollution Protection programs in 1996 and Nonpoint Source programs in 2000.

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