United States
Environmental Protection
Fact Sheet: Southern Ute Indian Tribe
Water Quality Standards Program Authority Application
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe of the Southern Ute Indian Reservation in Colorado
submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 8 an application
for program authority to administer the Clean Water Act (CWA)  303(c) Water Quality
Standards (WQS) and  401 Certification programs. This authority is also referred to as
Treatment in a Similar Manner as a State, or TAS, status. The EPA is reviewing the
Tribe's application and will be soliciting comments from appropriate governmental
entities (states, tribes, and other federal entities located contiguous to the Reservation)
and the public as part of the Agency's review.
Clean Water Act Water Quality Standards and Tribes
There are two steps in the process for tribes to implement CWA-approved WQS for
reservation surface waters. Pursuant to CWA  518(e), a tribe must first apply to the EPA
for CWA program authority (or TAS) for purposes of implementing the  303(c) WQS
and  401 Certification programs. The CWA authorizes the EPA to approve tribes that
meet statutory and regulatory criteria to administer the WQS program. (See CWA  518,
33 U.S.C.  1377; 40 C.F.R. Part 131.) Where the EPA determines that a tribe qualifies
for TAS for WQS purposes, the tribe likewise qualifies for TAS for purposes of
certifications conducted under CWA  401. Second, if the EPA approves a tribe's CWA
WQS program authority application, then the tribe may submit its WQS to the EPA for
review and approval determination under CWA  303(c). EPA review and approval or
disapproval of the tribe's WQS is a separate Agency action from the WQS TAS
determination. A tribe may however submit both its WQS TAS application and WQS to
the EPA concurrently. Upon EPA approval of an eligible tribe's WQS, those WQS go
into effect under the CWA and may serve as the basis for water quality assessments and
protections (e.g., NPDES discharge permit limitations).
The WQS program authority application requirements and review process are set forth at
40 C.F.R. 131.8. The information required in a tribe's application (see  131.8(b))
o A statement that the Tribe is recognized by the Secretary of the Interior;
o A descriptive statement demonstrating that the Tribal governing body is currently
carrying out substantial governmental duties and powers over a defined area;
o A descriptive statement of the Tribe's authority to regulate water quality; and
o A narrative statement describing the capability of the Tribe to administer an
effective WQS program.

EPA Review of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe's Program Authority Application
Pursuant to EPA regulations and established procedures, the Agency will review the
Southern Ute Indian Tribe's program authority application for purposes of administering
the CWA WQS and certification programs. The EPA Region 8 will make the Tribe's
application materials available on its website and will be holding a public comment
opportunity in its evaluation of the Tribe's application.
o Under EPA's regulations (40 C.F.R. Part 131), the EPA provides notice of a
tribe's assertion of authority over waters included in its application to appropriate
governmental entities (states, tribes, and other federal entities located contiguous
to the reservation) for comment. Comments are limited to the tribe's assertion of
authority. The EPA also provides notice to local governments and the public.
Comments will be solicited directly from appropriate governmental entities (including the
States of Colorado and New Mexico, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, the Bureau of Indian
Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, and the San Juan National Forest of the U.S.
Forest Service). Local governments and the public are encouraged to comment directly to
the EPA. A copy of the Tribe's application materials is available at: https://epa.gov/wqs-
In its review, the EPA will consider: the Tribe's application materials; all comments
received on the Tribe's application materials, including the statement of authority; any
Tribal response(s) to comments received; and appropriate legal considerations. A more
detailed description of the EPA review process is in the EPA's Strategy for Reviewing
Tribal Eligibility Applications to Administer EPA Regulatory Programs (see Attachments
A and B to the Strategy, available on the web at: https://www.epa.gov/tribal/strategy-
Currently there is one tribe in Colorado that has EPA-approved WQS in effect under the
CWA (both TAS for WQS and EPA approval of its WQS). The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
of the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation received TAS for WQS on September 26 2005, and
initial EPA approval of its WQS on October 19, 2011.
The Southern Ute Indian Reservation in southwestern Colorado supports a wide variety
of land uses including oil and gas development, farming and ranching, and recreational
tourism. Eight rivers traverse the Reservation in five main watersheds, predominantly
running north to south and draining to the San Juan River. The landscape ranges from
mountainous on the eastern side to agricultural and semi-arid desert lands on the western
side. The largest community is Ignacio, where the Tribal Council and other government
operations are housed. Nonpoint sources of pollution (sediments, nutrients, etc.) are the
principal water quality issue on the Reservation.