View Rule

View EO 12866 Meetings Printer-Friendly Version     Download RIN Data in XML

EPA/OW RIN: 2040-AF62 Publication ID: Fall 2016 
Title: Federal Baseline Water Quality Standards for Indian Reservations 
Abstract: EPA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) requesting public comment on the establishment of baseline water quality standards (WQS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA) for waters on Indian reservations that currently do not have EPA-approved WQS in place to protect water quality. EPA will consider comments received on this ANPRM prior to determining whether to develop a proposed rule on this topic. This ANPRM effort is one of several initiatives the EPA is undertaking that recognize the importance of protecting waters on which tribes rely. 
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency(EPA)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Prerule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: Undetermined 
CFR Citation: 40 CFR 131   
Legal Authority: 33 U.S.C. 1313(c)(4)(B)   
Legal Deadline:
Action Source Description Date

Statement of Need:

Currently, fewer than 50 of over 300 tribes with reservations have WQS effective under the CWA. Virtually all of the reservations with existing coverage have WQS established by tribes that have obtained treatment in a manner similar to a state (TAS) under CWA section 518, however, many tribes face obstacles on this pathway to WQS. The resulting gap in EPA-approved WQS in Indian reservation waters is not insignificant. Tribal reservations without CWA-effective WQS account for as much land area and population as the state of North Dakota. Federal baseline WQS would define water quality goals for unprotected reservation waters and serve as the foundation for CWA actions to protect human health and the environment.

Summary of the Legal Basis:

The CWA establishes the basis for the water quality standards (WQS) regulation and program. CWA section 303 addresses the development of state and authorized tribal WQS that serve the CWA objective for waters of the United States. The core components of WQS are designated uses, water quality criteria that support the uses, and antidegradation requirements. Designated uses establish the environmental objectives for a water body and water quality criteria define the conditions sufficient to achieve those environmental objectives. The antidegradation requirements provide a framework for maintaining and protecting water quality that has already been achieved. The CWA creates a partnership between states and authorized tribes, and EPA, by assigning states and authorized tribes the primary role of adopting WQS (CWA sections 101(b) and 303), and EPA the oversight role of reviewing and approving or disapproving state and authorized tribal WQS (CWA section 303(c)). Absent state or authorized tribal adoption or submission of new or revised WQS, section 303(c)(4)(B) of the CWA gives EPA the authority to determine that new or revised WQS are necessary to meet the requirements of the Act. Once the Administrator makes such a determination, EPA must promptly propose regulations setting forth new or revised WQS for the waters of the United States involved, and must then promulgate such WQS, unless a state or authorized tribe adopts and EPA approves such WQS first.


To Be Determined

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

To Be Determined


to be determined

Action Date FR Cite
ANPRM  09/29/2016  81 NFR 66900   
ANPRM Comment Period End  12/28/2016 
NPRM  To Be Determined 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: Federal, State, Tribal 
Small Entities Affected: No  Federalism: Undetermined 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Information URL:  
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Danielle Anderson
Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Water
Mail Code 4305T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20460
Phone:202 564-1631