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National Tribal Water Council
PO Box 15004
Flagstaff, AZ 86011-5004
(480) 452-6774

Policy Responses


Policy Response Kits (PRK) are comprised of two types of responses depending on the nature of the proposed rulemaking action. The NTWC may provide a straight forward comment letter from the National Tribal Water Council on issues of concern that may potentially impact Tribes. Additionally, the NTWC may develop a PRK which includes a fact sheet, official NTWC comment letter and a template letter for Tribes to use in submitting their own comments. Below are links to comment letters by the NTWC on important USEPA and federal agency proposed rules.

NTWC crafted and released Policy Response Kits on the following USEPA or federal agency actions:

National Tribal Water Council’s Comments on Proposed WOTUS Rule 1, Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW- 2021-0602
The National Tribal Water Council (NTWC) submitted comments on the Proposed Revised Definition of "Waters of the United States" WOTUS) issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (together, Agencies). 86 Fed. Reg. 69372 (December 7, 2021).

On February 7, 2022, the NTWC submitted a 15-page comment letter that included comments on nine areas, including the following:
Click here to read NTWC Comment Letter.

Notice of Consultation and Coordination on Revising the Definition of "Waters of the United States"
The National Tribal Water Council (NTWC) submitted the following comment letter in response to the request of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) (together, Agencies) for early feedback on the Agencies’ effort to revise the definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS). Submitted Oct 1, 2021.
Click here to read NTWC Comment Letter.

EPA’s Potential Promulgation of Tribal Baseline Water Quality Standards under the Clean Water Act
On June 15, 2021, the EPA started consultation on developing a proposed rule to establish tribal baseline water quality standards (WQS) for waters on Indian reservations that do not have WQS in effect for Clean Water Act (CWA) purposes. Water quality standards define the goals for water bodies and establish the criteria that must be met to support those goals, serving as the foundation for controlling pollution as mandated by the CWA. With the proposed rulemaking, the EPA will be better equipped to work with tribal governments to improve water quality in impaired waters and prevent future degradation of tribal waters. The comment letter was submitted on September 10, 2021.
Click here to read NTWC Comment Letter.

EPA’s Potential Revisions to the Clean Water Act Water Quality Standards Regulations to Protect Tribal Reserved Rights
On June 15, 2021, the EPA’s Office of Water started consultation on considering changes to the federal WQS regulations at 40 CFR Part 131 to explicitly and sustainably protect tribal reserved rights in state waters, consistent with existing legal obligations. Many tribes, through treaties and equivalent agreements with the U.S. government, hold reserved rights to aquatic or aquatic-dependent resources in waters outside the boundaries of federal Indian reservations, or in areas otherwise subject to state and federal jurisdiction. The comment letter was submitted on September 10, 2021.
Click here to read NTWC Comment Letter.

EPA’s Notice of Intention to Reconsider and Revise the Clean Water Act Section 401 Rule
On June 2, 2021, the EPA started consultation on the Notice of Intention to Reconsider and Revise the Clean Water Act Section (CWA) 401 Rule. CWA Section 401 provides states and tribes with a powerful tool to protect the quality of their waters from adverse impacts resulting from federally licensed or permitted projects. The comment letter was submitted on September 13, 2021.
Click here to read NTWC Comment Letter.

The NTWC developed and submitted a comment letter to the US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) regarding its “Proposal to Reissue and Modify Nationwide Permits.”
This action proposes to modify 32 of the existing 52 Clean Water Act (CWA) § 404 Nationwide Permits (NWPs) to comply with President Trump’s Executive Order 13783 of March 28, 2017, by “reduc[ing] the regulatory burden on entities that develop or use domestically produced energy resources.” 85 Fed. Reg. at 57300. It also proposes that the USACE will re-issue all of its NWPs, including the 20 that will remain the same, two years ahead of schedule. Id. Additionally, USACE is proposing revisions to 11 of the 32 NWP General Conditions and to several of the NWP definitions. The comment letter was submitted on November 13, 2020.
Click here to read NTWC Comment Letter.

Memorandum on the Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Final Rule (7/13/2020)
On July 13, 2020, the EPA published the Final Rule for the Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 Certification that replaces and modernizes the previous water quality certification regulations. This informational memorandum summarizes the key provisions of CWA 401; identifies the key provisions of the Final Rule; summarizes the main tribal comments on the Proposed Rule, including those made by the National Tribal Water Council, and the EPA’s responses to them; identifies the key differences between the Proposed Rule and the Final Rule; and summarizes the current status of litigation regarding the Final Rule. Developed July 22, 2020.
Click here to read NTWC’s Memorandum.

EPA’s Draft Guiding Principles for Consulting with Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Corporations (12/16/2019)
On December 16, 2019, the EPA released its Draft Principles for Consulting with Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Corporations. The draft guiding principles seek to clarify the EPA’s consultation and coordination practices with ANCSA Corporations, including any regulatory action that has substantial direct effects on an ANSCA corporation and imposes significant compliance costs. The National Tribal Water Council submitted a comment letter on July 8, 2020.
Click here to read NTWC Comment Letter.

Proposed National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Update Rule (1/10/2020)
On January 10, 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published a proposed rule that would significantly revise its regulations governing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The proposal, entitled “Update to the Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act,” (the “NEPA Update Rule”) would be the CEQ’s first major revision of its NEPA regulations in over 40 years. The National Tribal Water Council (NTWC) prepared a comment letter that was submitted on March 9, 2020, via https://www.regulations.gov.
Click here to read NTWC comment letter.

National Tribal Water Council’s Response to OITA’s Memorandum titled “Update on OITA Review of Treatment as a State Applications” (8/13/2019)
On August 13, 2019, EPA’s Office of International and Tribal Affairs (“OITA”) issued a Memorandum titled “Update on OITA Review of Treatment as a State Applications” (“Memo”), which briefly describes OITA’s role in reporting on and tracking tribal applications for “treatment as a state” (“TAS”) to administer certain federal environmental programs. In the Memo, EPA describes a “new focus” “to ensure that local governments that are located within or contiguous to the areas of Indian country covered by a regulatory TAS application are notified of the application and have an opportunity to provide any appropriate input as EPA develops its decision.” The National Tribal Water Council (“NTWC”) has significant concerns with OITA’s new focus, thus has crafted a response letter to OITA stating its concerns.
Click here to read NTWC Response Letter.

National Tribal Water Council Comments on the Proposed Pebble Mine Project and Army Corps of Engineers’ Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Feb 2019)
Through a comment letter, the NTWC provides input and response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (ACE) Pebble Project draft Environmental Impact Statement, which was released for public comment in February of 2019.
Click here to read NTWC Letter.

EPA’s Proposed Revisions for Improving Implementation of Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification
The proposed rule would replace and modernize the existing water quality certification regulations. The National Tribal Water Council (NTWC/Council) has developed a briefing paper. Additionally, NTWC is in the process of developing a comment letter, template letter and will schedule an informational webinar on October 1, 2019, at 1 PM PDT/4 PM EDT. Once the remaining documents are available, they will be posted and available by clicking below
  1. Briefing Paper
  2. NTWC Comment Letter
  3. NTWC Webinar Recording

Application of the Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Program to Releases of Pollutants from a Point Source to Groundwater
The National Tribal Water Council submitted comments in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s ("EPA” or “the Agency”) Interpretive Statement that sets forth the interpretation of the Clean Water Act ("the CWA" or “the Act"") National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES") permit program’s applicability to releases of pollutants from a point source to groundwater that subsequently migrate or are conveyed by groundwater to jurisdictional surface waters. Submitted June 7, 2019.
Click here to read NTWC comment letter.

EPA’s Draft FY 2020-2021 National Water Program Guidance
In response to EPA’s solicitation for comments to its Draft FY 2020-2021 National Water Program Guidance, which was due May 3, 2019, the National Tribal Water Council provided comments.
Click here to read NTWC comment letter.

EPA and the Army Corp of Engineers (ACE) Proposal to Revised the Definition of “Waters of the United States”
The National Tribal Water Council submitted a comment letter in response to EPA and ACE’s proposal to revise the definition of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS), published in the Federal Register on February 14, 2019. The NTWC comments focuses on the potential implications of a revised definition of WOTUS for waters on tribal lands. Submitted April 1, 2019. Below is the PRK for this proposed rule.
  1. Fact Sheet
  2. NTWC Comment Letter
  3. NTWC Webinar Recording
  4. NTWC Template Letter for Tribes
  5. NTWC Supplemental Comment Letter

EPA’s Early Engagement on Updating and Improving Implementation of Clean Water Act Section 401
The National Tribal Water Council (NTWC/Council) accepted an early engagement invitation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to respond by submitting a letter to the EPA as part of early input into the Agency’s interest in updating and improving implementation of the Clean Water Act § 401.
Click here to read NTWC’s early engagement comment letter

CWA § 404(g) State and Tribal Dredge and Fill Permit Regulatory Revision
The National Tribal Water Council (NTWC/Council) participated in early engagement with the U.S. EPA by providing early comments on EPA’s forthcoming proposal to revise the Clean Water Act (CWA) § 404(g) regulations, which EPA has stated is intended to provide clarity on the requirements for state and tribal assumption of the § 404(g) permitting program as well as to foster greater interest by authorized tribes and states in assuming the authority. These are NTWC’s comments during early engagement and intends to provide additional input once EPA publishes proposed revisions to the § 404(g) regulations in the Federal Register.
Click here to read NTWC's comment letter.

EPA National Water Program Core Measures
In response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) request for tribal feedback on streamlining its National Water Program Measures (NWPM), the National Tribal Water Council (NTWC) provided cursory comments. The proposed streamlining is implemented through EPA’s Lean Management System (ELMS), and is designed to reduce the metrics, which tracks progress of water program measures. In addition to providing cursory comments, the NTWC requested an extension of the comment period.
Click here to read NTWC's comment letter.

GAP Guidance Comment Letter
The National Tribal Water Council (NTWC) submitted comments and recommendations to improve the content and implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2013 General Assistance Program (GAP) Guidance document, referred to as the Guidance. The NTWC provided recommendations to assist EPA in achieving a nationally consistent capacity development framework for both EPA and tribes. The comment letter emphasized the strength of the GAP Program is the flexibility provided to Indian tribes to plan, and develop a reservation specific approach to environmental protection, consistent with tribally-identified environmental priorities.
Click here to read NTWC's comment letter.

CWA Coverage of “Discharges of Pollutants” via Direct Hydrologic Connection to Surface Water
The National Tribal Water Council (NTWC) submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in response to a request for Comment on Clean Water Act Coverage of “Discharges of Pollutants” via a Direct Hydrologic Connection to Surface Water, 83 Fed. Reg. 7126 (Feb. 20, 2018). NTWC’s comments address how such discharges of pollutants impact surface water quality for American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Tribes (also known as Alaska Native Villages). Submitted May 18, 2018
Click here to read NTWC's comment letter.

Environmental Protection Agency’s “Draft Summary of Potential Effects to Clean Water Act Programs for Tribal Waters”
The National Tribal Water Council (NTWC) submitted comments for consideration on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA/EPA) “Draft Summary of Potential Effects to Clean Water Act Programs for Tribal Waters,” (“Draft Summary”). The NTWC understands that the purpose of the Draft Summary is to assist the EPA in consideration of the tribal water programs in light of the proposed rulemaking to revise the definition of "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Submitted April 13, 2018
Click here to read NTWC's comment letter.

Lead and Cooper Rule Revisions
The National Tribal Water Council (NTWC) provided comments on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA/EPA) request for public comments on the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCR) (Docket ID. No. EPA-HQ- OW-2018- 0007). The NTWC's comment letter addressed how the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions impact drinking water quality for Indian Tribes, which is the focus of the NTWC mission. Submitted March 16, 2018
Click here to read NTWC's comment letter.

EPA and the Army Corp's Proposal to Amend the Effective Date of the 2015 Rule Defining “Waters of the United States”
The National Tribal Water Council commented on EPA’s and the Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers’(together “the Agencies”) proposal, published in the Federal Register on November 22, 2017, to add an applicability date of two years to the 2015 Clean Water Rule (currently not in effect, due to a stay) because the new proposed applicability date will not accomplish the goals that the Agencies seek, and will instead unnecessarily exacerbate confusion and uncertainty regarding the implementation of the definition of “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule, especially for WOTUS and other waters on tribal lands. Submitted December 13, 2017
Click here to read NTWC's comment letter.