Southern Ute tribe seeks to manage reservation water quality — The Durango Herald


From The Durango Herald:

Governments, agencies and organizations have until Feb. 3 to submit comments to the EPA, which will be considered as the agency makes a decision.

La Plata County commissioners plan to submit comments and discuss the matter in a 3 p.m. Monday work session and again in a special meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Tribes can ask the EPA to be treated as a state, which allows them to adopt and administer water quality standards. Under the Clean Water Act, a state can determine the level of purity and quality of its own waters. The Southern Utes have no such standards under the Clean Water Act.

There are eight river basins in La Plata County over which the tribe has some jurisdiction, and standards adopted by the tribe would influence upstream discharge permit holders near these waterways, including the city of Durango, town of Bayfield, the Durango-La Plata County Airport and South Durango Sanitation District.

It is unclear whether, if the EPA approves the request, the tribe’s standards would be equal to or more stringent than regulations governing areas upstream, and if the process would be transparent.

The Southern Utes have considered this action for years.

If the EPA approves the application, which details the tribe’s ability to effectively govern a water quality program, the agency would then consider approval for a set of standards as a separate action, which could take years…

The application can be found at

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