We ensure clean water standards are met

Water quality lab

Monitoring water quality

Water is a critical resource, providing sustenance to people, land, wildlife and livestock. The Tribe is conducting water quality monitoring and assessment activities and the data collected is used to establish baseline environmental conditions and to identify changes in these conditions over time, thereby detecting areas of concern or areas that may require regulatory or non-regulatory actions. This information enables the Tribe to make informed, environmentally sound decisions and to set short and long-term priorities.

Regulatory Grant

The Water Quality Laboratory currently operates under a Section 106 Clean Water Act grant issued by the Environmental Protection Agency with a Tribal match. This grant requires compliance with tribal water quality standards via stream monitoring data to be collected and analyzed on a rotating sub-basin schedule, which is either monthly or quarterly.

The Laboratory Manager is responsible for:

  • Ensuring reporting requirements are up to date and that the 106 grant is renewed in a timely manner.
  • Water quality standards compliance for new construction projects via 401 water quality certifications issued.
  • Point source NPDES monitoring, analysis and federal report preparation.
  • Processing 401 Water Quality Certification applications.
Field operation

Laboratory and Field Operations

Surface water monitoring is done on a 6 rotating sub-basin schedule.

  1. Hiwassee
  2. Cheoah
  3. Valley River
  4. Raven Fork
  5. Soco Creek
  6. Oconaluftee + Tuckasegee

Laboratory technicians collect and analyze samples for in-house laboratory analyses of e-coli, turbidity, TKN, nitrite, nitrate, and total phosphorous levels; stream samples from Big Cove 1, 3 and 7 monthly for instantaneous DO, pH and temperature; continuous monitoring of flow and temperature at same stations with Hobo units.  Through the USGS Gauge Station, we perform continuous monitoring for temperature, conductance, turbidity, pH, and nitrate levels, using the website waterdata.usgs.gov/nc/nwis/rt.

We report areas of poor water quality to Tribal Engineering.  NPDES (point source discharge) monitoring and analysis is performed weekly at the Cherokee Wastewater Treatment Plant, and monthly at aquaculture facilities for several parameters as required by NPDES permits.

Water quality assurance

Quality Assurance

The Water Quality Laboratory is NC certified and our staff are state certified Laboratory Analysts.  State certification requires the laboratory to have a designated laboratory manager and supervisor. Certification is maintained by good QA/QC as evidenced by passing quality control tests for each parameter analyzed annually. Samples analyzed are considered legally defensible.

We conduct monthly reviews to assure field data sheets are accurately recorded. Our program uses approved QA/QC procedures to assess data and make any needed corrections.  The program uses EPA’s guidance for Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPPs) and standard Operation Procedures (SOPs), consistent with the DQO process described in EPA/600/R-96/055 to support monitoring activities described in the monitoring strategy (see http://www.epa.gov/quality/docs.html) for ambient monitoring and specific projects to ensure the scientific validity of monitoring and laboratory activities

Community outreach

Community Education

Our program advances Tribal water quality protection interests at multiple venues, via education and participation in forums. We conduct public information classes/meetings through community club, local watershed NGO, and soil and water conservation districts; participates in school field day events; hosts summer school interns, subject to availability. We participate in the National Tribal Water Council, Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Taskforce, and the USET Natural Resources Committee and the Tribal Environmental Operators Certification Board of USET; Duke Power’s Tuckasegee and Nantahala Hydropower Relicensing Committees; and Alcoa’s Cheoah and Tallassee Hydropower Settlement Fund Boards.

EBCI Water Quality Standards – Final Document

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Water Quality Office would like to thank the public for their input in finalizing the EBCI Water Quality Standards.  View and download a copy of the Water Quality Standards report.

Questions about EBCI Water Quality Standards should be directed to the Water Quality Section Supervisor, Michael Bolt by phone at (828) 359-6772 or email michbolt@nc-cherokee.com.


Streams Monitored


Water Quality Indicators


Toxins We Test


Continuous Monitoring Sites