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COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho-- The Coeur d'Alene Indian tribe will
set standards for how clean the waters of its portion of Lake Coeur
d'Alene and the St. Joe River must be, the Environmental Protection
The tribe a few years ago won a Supreme Court decision to claim
ownership of the lower third of the scenic lake, and the decision by
the EPA reflects that, officials said. The tribe will establish water
quality standards under the Clean Water Act.
"It is important that waters of the lake and the St. Joe River
within the reservation receive protection similar to that provided to
the northern portion of the lake and throughout the state of Idaho,"
said Ron Kreizenbeck, acting EPA regional administrator.
The river flows into the southern end of the lake. The state sets
standards for the upper two-thirds of the lake.
The tribe said the decision follows six years of effort.
"This is a good day for the Coeur d'Alene tribe," said Chief
Allan, the tribal chairman. "Protecting tribal waters is as essential
to the tribe's survival today as it was in 1873."
The tribe will not set standards for nearby Heyburn State Park or
other areas of the reservation, the EPA said. The tribe said it hoped
to pursue authority over those areas later.
Once the tribe sets water quality standards, they will be released
for public review and comment. The EPA must approve the tribe's
standards before they go into effect.
The tribe and the state are currently working to develop
compatible standards, and it is unlikely that there will be major
changes to existing permits, the EPA said.
The EPA will continue to be responsible for taking enforcement
actions for violation of permit conditions.
The state and tribe will work together to create a management plan
for the lake, including ways to clean up heavy metals pollution from
a century of mining.
"We're going to be jointly managing Lake Coeur d'Alene so it is
important to be coordinating water quality standards," said Ed
Tulloch, regional water quality manager for the Idaho Department of
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