EPA gives authority to KBIC to develop clean water standards
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is approving an application that gives the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community authority to set water quality standards for its reservation.
Under the U.S. Clean Water Act, federally recognized tribal lands can apply for “treatment in a similar matter to a state.” With the accepted application, they can develop clean water standards the same way a state would.
“This is a step in the right direction. The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community has been probably trying to get the ability to regulate the air and water quality standards for a number of years, and we’re just thankful to all that were involved that helped us get to where we are at today,” said Warren C. Swartz Jr, Tribal President of the KBIC.
Although this gives the KBIC the authority to set standards, they still must submit their plans to the EPA for approval.
“It’s really, at this point, up to KBIC on what steps they want to take next, and in what timeframe. When they are ready to proceed on some of that, the EPA will also be there to collaborate and provide assistance,” said Debbie Baltazar, Chief of State and Tribal Programs Support Branch, EPA.
The KBIC added that they look forward to working with local governments, as well as the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, to formulate a plan that best serves the community.