Water is one of the most important natural resources that exists. The Tribal Water Program (TWP) monitors surface water on the Morongo Reservation, assists in preventing water pollution, identifies potential or existing contaminant sources, and provides outreach/resources to encourage conservation and responsible management of water.
Water Quality Monitoring
Quarterly surface water monitoring provides baseline information on the condition of springs, streams, and other waterbodies. Quarterly sampling also establishes water quality trends and can signal when there is an issue. The parameters monitored quarterly are temperature, turbidity, pH, specific conductivity, dissolved oxygen, total dissolved solids, barometric pressure, and salinity. Annually, samples are taken to a lab to test for additional parameters including metals, nutrients, and bacteria. Other qualities such as flow, physical habitat, and benthic macroinvertebrates are also monitored. The TWP manages and analyzes the water quality data it collects. Each year, the results are summarized in a Water Quality Assessment Report produced by the TWP.
Nonpoint Source Pollution Management
Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution comes from runoff rather than a specific source (like a pipe). It is one of the largest categories contributing to water pollution because it is hard to track down and stop.
- Stormwater is managed to reduce the amount of sediment and chemicals transported to waterbodies in runoff.
- Erosion control is carried out to reduce excess sediment that can disrupt aquatic systems and to protect streambanks.
- Water conservation helps manage NPS pollution by reducing runoff and wastewater.
- Forest management, native species planting, and invasive species removal are also conducted to promote functioning of plant communities on the Reservation. This helps keep water balanced in natural ecosystems, filter pollutants, and reduce runoff.
Compliance with Water Regulations
The TWP helps to ensure that Tribal enterprises, development projects, and other regulated entities are in compliance with Federal and Tribal environmental regulations. The Clean Water Act (CWA) is the main law that addresses surface water. It establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and sets up the structures used to ensure water is of good quality for various uses including people and the environment. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the primary federal agency responsible for administering the CWA. Federally recognized Tribes are eligible to administer certain activities of the CWA including the development of water quality programs and standards. In April 2018, Morongo was awarded “Treatment in a similar manner as a State” (TAS) for Water Quality Standards and Water Quality Certification by the EPA.
Other relevant regulations include:
- The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System is a permit program for point sources
- The Army Corps of Engineers permits dredging and filling surface waters
- The Endangered Species Act protects vulnerable animals and their habitats
Water Quality Standards
The Water Quality Standards will be adopted and become effective on March 15, 2022. This will be followed by submission to EPA.