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Seneca Nation of Indians Puts Village of Portville on Notice for Violating Terms of Clean Water Act

Posted in: News & Announcements

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ALLEGANY/CATTARAUGUS TERRITORIES, N.Y. – The Seneca Nation has notified the Village of Portville, New York of its intent to take legal action following the Village’s failure to abate persistent discharges of pollutants that are negatively impacting the Ohi:yo’ (Allegheny River), which runs through the Nation’s Allegany Territory.

The Nation sent a notice of intent to initiate civil action against the Village pursuant to Section 301 of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1311(a) for discharging solids and fecal coliform, among other things, in excess of the legal limits on a regular and continuing basis from January 2015 through April 6, 2021.

As Keepers of the Western Door and historic stewards of the environment, the Nation has been both greatly dismayed and significantly harmed by Portville’s flagrant disregard for both the letter of the law and the health and wellbeing of its downstream neighbors.

“Clean, safe water is a basic human right,” said Seneca Nation President Matthew Pagels. “The Seneca people have a longstanding tradition of fishing, hunting, gathering, swimming, or simply relaxing in and around the Ohi:yo’. Polluting the waters that pass through our land is nothing short of an insult to our Nation and something for which we will not stand. Ohi:yo’ in Seneca means ‘beautiful’ or ‘good’ and we intend to make sure that description is accurate.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the excessive discharges from the Village of Portville Water Treatment Plant into Dodge Creek, a tributary of the Ohi:yo’, have violated the terms of its state discharge permit for more than five years. The Seneca Nation intends to sue for all Clean Water Act violations and is seeking civil penalties for any additional violations discovered in the future – including during the course of litigation - as well as any that might occur subsequent to this notice.

In addition, the Nation will seek an injunction in an effort to halt the continued illegal discharges, as well as costs, attorney and expert witness fees, and any other additional relief that the court might determine to be appropriate.

“Due to the persistent nature of these violations, it is likely ongoing violations will occur if no legal action is taken,” said Pagels. “To date, neither the state nor federal governments has taken action to right this egregious wrong.”

“As such, the Seneca Nation has taken matters into its own hands and is doubling down on its efforts to protect and restore its waterways for generations to come,” the President continued. “Other communities both up and downstream of our Territories should take heed. The Nation plans to use every tool at its disposal to safeguard this precious resource; our very lives depend on it.”

Presidential Update 4/1/21

Posted in: News & Announcements

President Pagels acknowledges the closing of Women’s History Month, while also giving updates on vaccination availability and Nation travel policy. He announces the annual Community Fair, surveys being done by the Climate Change Task Force and Department of Transportation, as well as registration for virtual participation for April’s regular Council session.

Seneca Women Tribute 2021

Posted in: Seneca Media & Communications Center

In recognition of the conclusion of Women's History Month, the Seneca Nation expresses profound gratitude for the mothers, grandmothers, aunties, sisters, and daughters who are the heart of our Nation. We honor their strength, wisdom, and resilience in this video highlighting some of the amazing women of the Seneca Nation. They continue to blaze trails, achieve great successes, and set a powerful example for all the women proudly following in their footsteps.

Presidential Update 3/26/21

Posted in: News & Announcements

Council Co-Chair Presley Redeye, standing in for President Pagels, offers condolences for the passing of Andrew John. He provides updates about COVID cases and the Seneca Nation Health System now making appointments for enrolled Nation members, Seneca Nation Health System patients, and those eligible for services at the Health System over the age of 18.

Presidential Update 3/22/21

Posted in: News & Announcements

President Pagels shares an important update about increased vaccine availability for adults of all ages through the Seneca Nation Health System, as well as an upcoming vaccination clinic collaboration between the Seneca Gaming Corporation and Cattaraugus County. He clarifies the Allegany fisheries closure, congratulates the new Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, and announces the Environmental Protection Agency has approved the Seneca Nation’s application to participate in Clean Water Act grant programs and is now authorized to implement Water Quality Standards and Certification Programs. He closes recognizing the newest members of National Honor Society at Salamanca City Central School District.

Presidential Update 3/12/21

Posted in: News & Announcements

President Pagels offers condolences on the passing of Michael “Spike” John and encourages everyone to get vaccinated against this deadly disease. He provides important new information about vaccine scheduling, as well as registering for virtual COVID info sessions and regular Council. He concludes with noting the inclusion of significant funding for Indian Country in the American Rescue Plan and the authorizing of National Grid and Verizon to begin tree clearing and construction work on the Cattaraugus Territory for the broadband initiative.

Presidential Update 3/9/21

Posted in: News & Announcements

President Pagels reflects on the past year of the pandemic, while providing updates about vaccination, testing, and weekly virtual COVID info sessions. He also notes the free wireless internet available for students, how to register for future broadband service, and the Seneca Nation Housing Authority’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

Presidential Update 2/26/21

Posted in: News & Announcements

President Pagels speaks on a decrease in identified positive cases, ongoing Bluestone testing in March including a pop up test in Allegany this Saturday, an update on Cattaraugus broadband, and registration for a virtual informational meeting about the US Court of Appeals decision on the gaming compact arbitration.

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