"Michigan Tribe Seeks To Set Its Own Water Standards"

"The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, heavily reliant on fish, berries and wild rice, wants to join the 60 other US tribes who the feds have granted control over setting water regulations."

"The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, on the shores of one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, is petitioning the federal government to hand over control of setting water quality standards.

It would make them the first tribe in Michigan to receive that right and join 60 tribes in the United States already granted that ability. Many tribes argue that an increased role in setting water regulation allows them to tailor the standards to protect plants and wildlife important to them. Tribes across the country who've been granted the authority have used it to tackle environmental issues specific to their area, including reducing phosphorus in Florida water; preserving clean water in a Montana lake; forcing upstream users in New Mexico to stop sending waste down the Rio Grande; and halting a controversial mine project in Wisconsin.

The provision of the Clean Water Act, called "treatment in a manner similar as states," allows tribes to take the leading role in establishing uses for water bodies. The designated use of each body of water determines the EPA regulations that apply to it. In order to have their application approved, the tribe must be federally recognized and have a government capable of enforcing water regulation. The EPA also considers public comments, which are being accepted through June 21, after which a decision will be made."

Andrew Blok reports for Environmental Health News June 10, 2019.

Source: EHN, 06/11/2019