Aug 15, 2016

U.S. EPA Approves Cortina Band of Wintun Indians' Right to Develop Water Quality Standards

Decision promotes tribal self-government

Wintun Indians, Cortina Band, California, tribal government, water quality

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the approval of the Cortina Band of Wintun Indians’ application for “treatment in a similar manner as a state” under the federal Clean Water Act. Alexis Strauss, EPA’s acting regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, presented the signed Certificate of Achievement to Tribal Chairman Charlie Wright in a ceremony at EPA’s offices in San Francisco.

“The Cortina Band is now legally recognized as the government entity charged with protecting its water resources,” said Strauss. “The streams and springs on their land are integral to the tribe’s health and heritage.”

EPA’s decision promotes tribal self-government, paving the way for the tribe to administer their own program to develop water quality standards and to issue water quality certifications of federal actions in order to protect tribal waters, including Strode Canyon Creek and Strode Spring. The Cortina Band is the fifth tribe in California to gain this authority.

The Cortina Band can now develop water quality standards for waters within their reservation, similar to the process used by states under Sections 303 and 401of the Clean Water Act. After the tribe develops and EPA approves the standards, the Cortina Band will administer surface water quality standards, building upon existing successful environmental programs run by the Wintun Environmental Protection Agency. 

The Cortina Band’s reservation is located in southwestern Colusa County, approximately 70 miles northwest of Sacramento, Calif. Their land base consists of 640 acres in the Northern California Coast Range.  

For more information on “treatment in a similar manner as a state,” and for a list of tribes with the same designation, visit: www.epa.gov/wqs-tech/epa-approvals-tribal-water-quality-standards.

expand_less