Southern Ute Indian Tribe



Summary of the Proposed Water Quality Standards for Surface Waters on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation and Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Procedures

Summary of the Proposed Water Quality Standards for Surface Waters on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation and Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Procedures

On March 28, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s application to be treated in a similar manner as a state for purposes of the Clean Water Act’s water quality standards and section 401 water quality certification programs. At the direction and with the support of the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council, the Environmental Programs Division (“Division”) has developed water quality standards and Clean Water Act section 401 water quality certification procedures for tribal waters. What follows is a summary of the Division’s proposed water quality standards and Clean Water Act section 401 certification procedures.

Proposed Water Quality Standards
Water quality standards form a legal basis for controlling pollutants entering tribal waters. Water quality standards describe the desired condition of a water body and the means by which that condition will be protected or achieved. Water bodies can be used for purposes such as recreation (e.g. swimming, fishing, boating), protection of aquatic life, agricultural, public water supply, industrial, navigation, and other purposes.

The Division has developed proposed water quality standards to protect public health and welfare, enhance the quality of water, and serve the purposes of the Clean Water Act. To ensure that the standards are approvable by EPA, the Division has included the elements required under the Clean Water Act and EPA’s implementing regulations: (1) designated uses for tribal waters, (2) numeric and narrative water quality criteria designed to protect each designated use, (3) antidegradation policies and procedures to ensure attainment and maintenance of the designated uses, and (4) general policies to protect water quality.

The proposed water quality standards serve the primary functions of (1) establishing water quality goals for water bodies on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation over which the Tribe has authority to set water quality standards and (2) providing the legal basis for regulatory pollution controls. Establishing criteria and designated uses that protect aquatic and wildlife species, recreational use, potable water, and agricultural uses is also an important objective of these standards. More specifically, the standards should serve, and will be implemented to achieve, these purposes:

  1. Assessment. Provide a point of reference for the assessment of surface water quality.
    The standards represent the water quality goals of the Tribe for surface waters and will be
    used in assessing potential impacts to that quality.
  2.  Regulatory Controls. Both point and nonpoint source regulatory pollution controls to be established by the Tribe or the United States will be developed to ensure a level of water quality that will satisfy the water quality standards. Regulatory pollution controls established for point source discharges will also be consistent with applicable sections of the Clean Water Act. Tribal programs to control nonpoint sources, whether regulatory or voluntary, will be designed to meet the water quality standards.

Protection of Aquatic and Wildlife Species. The Tribe intends that the designated uses and criteria assigned to tribal waters will provide a level of water quality fully protective of aquatic and wildlife species dependent on it, including threatened or endangered species listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Procedures

Under Clean Water Act section 401, a federal agency cannot issue a permit or license for an activity that may cause a discharge to waters of the United States until the state or tribe where the discharge would originate has granted or waived Clean Water Act section 401 certification. With this authority, the Tribe can deny, certify, waive, or condition permits or licenses based in part on the proposed project’s compliance with the Tribe’s EPA-approved water quality standards. Clean Water Act section 401 certification authority, therefore, is an important tool for protecting water quality, although it is limited in scope and application to situations involving federally permitted or licensed activities that may cause a discharge to a water of the United States.

The Tribe’s proposed 401 water quality certification procedures:

  1. delegate authority to the Division to act on behalf of the Tribe in exercising the Tribe’s Clean Water Act section 401 certification authority;
  2. establish an application process through the Division that requires the applicant to reimburse the Tribe for the costs of application review;
  3. establish a process for applications to be reviewed both internally within the tribal organization (through a proposed project notification process) and through a public review and comment process;
  4. set forth the factors that will be considered in reviewing applications (e.g., compliance with water quality standards);
  5. describe the decision-making process and the possible decisions (e.g., grant, grant with conditions, deny, or waive);
  6. list the general requirements that will apply to all of the Tribe’s Clean Water Act section 401 certifications; and
  7. provide for judicial review in the Tribal Court of any Clean Water Act section 401 certification decisions by the Environmental Programs Division.

Notice and Request for Tribal Member Comments

Comments will be accepted until October 30, 2020. You may submit comments related to the water quality standards or 401 certification procedures through the Tribal Member Portal or any of the
following methods:

▪ E-mail:

▪ Mail: Water Quality Standards Committee, Environmental Programs Division, Southern Ute Indian
Tribe, P.O. Box 737 #81, 71 Mike Frost Way, Ignacio, Colorado 81137.

▪ Phone: (970) 563-4705; select the 7901 option to comment on the water quality standards and 401 certification procedures.

All comments received will be reviewed and the Division will provide a response to all comments. Once completed, the proposed water quality standards and 401 certification procedures will be available for an additional general public review for a 45-day period.

If you have any questions, please call Alexandra Ratcliff at 970-563-2256 or Jeff Seebach at 970-563-2272.

Outreach Flyer


SUIMA Start Date Postponed to August 31, 2020


August 14, 2020

To: SUIMA Parents/Guardians and Families

From: SUIT Education Department

Cc: Executive Office and SUIMA School Board

Dear SUIMA Families,


While the Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy (SUIMA) Administration and Staff were looking forward to greeting our students next week, the Southern Ute Tribal Council (SUIMA School Board), SUIMA Administration and the Southern Ute Incident Management Team (IMT) have determined it is in the best interest of both students and staff to delay the start of the school year to August 31, 2020 and offer only a remote learning option until the tribal “Stay at Home” Order has been modified and the risk for contracting the coronavirus is dissipated.


The results of the Parent/Guardian survey also contributed to the decision to postpone the start of school by one week and limit school options to remote learning only. 71% of parents responded that remote learning was the best option for their family while 23% responded they would prefer the on-campus model. Tribal leadership would like to acknowledge the wishes of the SUIMA families that responded to the survey.


If the current “Stay at Home” Order is modified or a “Safer at Home” Order is issued, SUIMA may be permitted to offer an on-campus learning option.  If the decision is made to offer on-campus learning, SUIMA Administration will communicate changes in learning modalities to Parents/Guardians with adequate time to make a change to a student’s learning option. SUIMA will continue comprehensive check-ins with students throughout the remote learning option. Check-ins will include both social-emotional and academic learning and development.


The decision to only offer remote learning was not easy; however, the health and safety of SUIMA students and staff is the greatest concern for Tribal Council, SUIMA Administration and the IMT. As schools across the United States have opened classrooms, positive cases of the coronavirus disease have increased. The effects of COVID-19 are unknown at this time, especially in children. Parents/Guardians should feel comfortable sending their student to a safe classroom setting where precautions are in place to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.


SUIMA will host in-person classroom orientation the week of August 31 through September 4, 2020. The orientation will provide introductions, explain how remote learning will be conducted, provide a demonstration of online learning tools (including log-in instructions), and answer any questions. Chromebooks will be available to Primary and Lower and Upper Elementary students; Parents/Guardians should request a Chromebook during the orientation. SUIMA will use Google Classroom to deliver Remote Learning lessons. Online academic programs such as Freckle and Lexia will be accessible for K-6 grade.


SUIMA will continue to work on a schedule for households with multiple students who have a limited number of devices available at the same time. As a friendly reminder, enrolled Southern Ute tribal members can access the Computer Purchase Cost Share program. For more information on the program, please contact Mrs. Ellen Baker at 970.563.0235 or via email at For students who do not checkout a Chromebook or who do not have the means to learn remotely, SUIMA will prepare hard-copy packets on a weekly basis. Please contact SUIMA Administration if your student will require a hard-copy packet and to receive the packet as part of the pick-up process.


Please continue to stay informed with accurate information by going to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at or the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) website at Please follow the Southern Ute Indian Tribe on social media and regularly view the Tribe’s websites to observe the most updated tribal information.


We are in this together, and together we can fight COVID-19. Continue to stay home, wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, practice social distancing, wear your face covering when leaving your home for essential activities and stay connected with your loved ones.


I hope each and every one of you remain healthy and happy. While this was not the start of the academic year I had hoped for, I would like to wish our students the best wishes for the upcoming school year. I would also like to remind Parents/Guardians to contact your teacher and the SUIMA Administration for resources while you navigate the new role of Parent/Teacher. Thank you for your understanding and patience while we make these necessary changes to protect our students, but most importantly thank you for continuing to see the importance of education and your willingness to step into this uncharted territory.


For questions or concerns, I will be available to assist in every way possible.


Warmest Regards,


Mari Jo Owens,

SUIMA Principal

Office – 970.563.2711

Email –


20200819 – SUIMA Aug 31 Start Date