Governing Water Systems – Ordinances and Resolutions
Ordinances, in relation to water systems, are the written rules or laws adopted by Tribes or utility managers that establish water system operation, maintenance and management. Ordinances are enforceable and guide interaction with water and water/wastewater systems. Their purpose is to protect the integrity of the systems and ensure high-quality service for community members. For example, a Tribe may include an ordinance clarifying who is responsible for the section of pipeline connecting a home to the main line or outlining the cost and procedure for new home hook-up to the water system.
Resolutions, in relation to water systems,are official expressions of the opinion or will of the Tribe or utility managers, representing their official position on a specific issue or event. Resolutions are not enforceable. Their main purposes are to express support or opposition, or request that a specific action be taken, making them an important avenue for advocacy. For example, a Tribe may pass a resolution stating their opposition of the construction of a pipeline that threatens their drinking water source.
Ordinances and resolutions can be written in a confusing legal tone. Fortunately, there are many examples of Tribal water ordinances and resolutions available online. If your Tribe or managers are looking to establish or adopt new water/wastewater system ordinances or resolutions, take the time to review examples adopted by other Tribes. You may find that you can borrow from the language of ordinances and resolutions passed by another Tribe, making changes where necessary to adapt them to fit your community needs.
The National Indian Law Library offers a broad collection of example ordinances and resolutions. National Indian Law Library: Search Page will take you to their search page. Type “water ordinance” or “water resolution” into the search bar to browse a list of ordinances and resolutions adopted by Tribes across the country or click on the examples included in the lists that follow.
The following ordinances focus on water quality:
- Model Tribal Drinking Water Ordinance: The National Indian Justice Center (NIJC) has created a model that serves as a starting point for any Tribe wanting to establish or adopt new ordinances that protect water quality.
- The Resighini Rancheria Tribal Water Quality Ordinance Number O1-2002
The following ordinances focus on water/wastewater systems:
- Skokomish Tribal Utility Ordinance
- Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe: Water and Wastewater Ordinance
- An Ordinance to Establish the Lac Du Flambeau Water and Wastewater Authority
- Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal Law: Tribal Utility Ordinance
- Saginaw Chippewa: Water and Wastewater Authority
- Bay Mills Indian Community: Tribal Utility Ordinance
The following ordinance focuses on enforcement of water ordinances:
- Standing Rock Sioux Tribe DAPL Resolution: A simple but powerful resolution passed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe expressing their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
- The National Congress of American Indians Resolution Template: On this page, you’ll find a template used by the NCAI and its member Tribes for resolution writing. This will give you a quick, clear idea of the common structure of resolutions.
- The National Congress of American Indians Resolution #ANC-14-052: This resolution, created from the above-mentioned template, serves as the NCAI’s official statement of support for sustained federal funding for Tribal water and wastewater operator certification programs.
- Approval and Endorsement for the Jicarilla Apache Nation to become a founding member of the Water is Life… A Tribal Partnership: A resolution by the Jicarilla Apache Nation with powerful wording that helps to remind us of the spiritual mandate to ensure the protection of water.
- United South & Eastern Tribes; Resolutions: The USET website includes resolutions on a variety of topics. Search USET’s resolution page by typing “water” into the search bar to browse all resolutions related to water.
- Oil and Water Don’t Mix; Tribal Supporters: On this website, you will find resolutions passed by eleven Great Lakes area Tribes and Tribal organizations expressing their official support of decommissioning the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline at the Straits of Mackinac.
- Resolution No. 01-244; Establishing Powers in the Tohono O’odham Nation to Restrain Water Pollution: This resolution represents the order by the Tohono O’odham Nation that no person discharge damaging pollutants into the waters of the Nation.