Red Lake seeks water standard authority from EPA

An application has been sent by the Red Lake Nation to the Environmental Protection Agency for more authority over reservation waters.

Red Lake Nation web art.jpg
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RED LAKE -- The Red Lake Nation is requesting approval from the Environmental Protection Agency for more authority over its waters.

The request would authorize Red Lake to regulate water quality for all surface water bodies within the reservation in Minnesota. The EPA is reviewing the tribe's application and is accepting public comment until May 11.

The tribe applied to the EPA for authority similar to that of a state government when it comes to the Clean Water Act and certification programs. The EPA's approval would allow the tribe to adopt and revise water quality standards, and to certify that discharges comply with standards for all surface waters inside the reservation.

In total, the tribe has 135 lakes and an estimated 371 miles of rivers and streams in watersheds. These include Upper and Lower Red Lakes, as well as the Red Lake, Thief, Clearwater, Roseau, Rapid and Rainy Rivers.

The Clean Water Act and several other environmental laws authorize EPA to treat federally recognized Native American tribes in a similar manner as a state for implementing and managing certain environmental programs. To be eligible, applicants must:


  • Be a federally recognized tribe.
  • Have a governing body carrying out substantial governmental duties and powers.
  • Have appropriate authority.
  • Be capable of carrying out the functions of the program.

Those interested in speaking on the subject can direct comments to David Horak, the tribal program manager for EPA Region 5. The address to send mail to is State and Tribal Programs and Support Branch WS-15J, 77 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60604. Comments can also be emailed to

For a copy of Red Lake's application, visit the EPA website at .

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