In October 2002 the Wiyot Tribe established a water pollution control program under authority of Sections 106 and 319 of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). The goals of the program are to:
Assess and better understand the Tribe's water resources
To identify threats and negative stressors to water quality
Monitor and protect the quality of the Tribe's water resources and their uses
The Wiyot people have always lived around Humboldt Bay and the lower Eel and Mad Rivers, and have used the waters of the bay, rivers, and coast for many purposes. Fishing, hunting, and gathering food and culturally significant materials are particularly important to Tribal members who have long depended on fish and wildlife for subsistence. Before the damming of wetlands by European settlers, there were over 100 miles of travelable waterway up into sloughs and creeks that empty into Humboldt Bay. Using redwood canoes, these routes were means of reaching important locations, such as ceremonial grounds and fishing sites. Food resources such as shellfish, crabs, seals, otter, fish, and eels were often harvested from the rivers, bay, and mudflats in canoes. Basket and textile materials such as tule and willow root were, and still are, collected from wetland and riparian habitats. Water continues to be essential in use of medicines, soaking basket materials, leaching foods such as acorns, and bathing the sick when in ceremonies, or when used while fasting during ceremonies. Undoubtedly, the Tribe has many reasons to protect the water that supports the diverse ceremonial, medicinal, practical, and subsistence resources that the people depend on.