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News Releases from Region 05

EPA Authorizes Keweenaw Bay Indian Community to Set Water Quality Standards for L’Anse Reservation in Michigan

Contact Information: 
Francisco Arcaute (
312-886-7613, 312-898-2042 cell

For Immediate Release No. 20-OPA-009

BARAGA, Mich. (April 28, 2020) Today U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 announced the approval of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community’s (KBIC’s) application for “treatment in a similar manner as a state” under the federal Clean Water Act for the L’Anse reservation in Michigan. The tribe is now authorized to set water quality standards for its reservation.

“I am pleased to recognize the tribe’s authority to protect rivers and streams on the L’Anse reservation and to safeguard the health and heritage of its community and natural resources,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede.

“With honoring our first treaty with all orders of creation which include our obligations and connections to the natural environment, it is imperative that we take the next steps in exercising our sovereignty,” said Warren C. Swartz Jr, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community tribal president. “The KBIC is excited to begin working on the development of water quality standards that will take into account the well-being of our local community. By obtaining Treatment as a Sovereign, we will continue building relationships with our local, state and federal partners in protecting our water resources here on the KBIC L’Anse Reservation.”

“EGLE welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community to fulfill our shared goals of preserving and protecting our natural resources and public health,” said Teresa Seidel, Water Resources Division director at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. “We are pleased KBIC has received this designation, and with their demonstrated commitment to improving water quality and quality of life on the L’Anse Reservation.”

EPA’s decision promotes tribal self-government and empowers the tribe to develop water quality standards and to issue water quality certifications for actions requiring federal permits on its lands to protect tribal waters.

With this authority, the KBIC can develop water quality standards as states can do under Sections 303 and 401 of the Clean Water Act. Once EPA has reviewed and approved the standards, the Tribe will administer its surface water quality program, building upon its existing successful environmental programs.

A copy of the KBIC Application and Response to Comments will be posted on EPA’s website:  

For more information on Treatment as a State, and for a list of tribes with the same designation, please visit: