Water secured for tribal lands

Indian tribes in our arid region need access to reliable water to continue to live on reservation lands. This session, I jointly wrote Assembly Bill 1361 with Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D – Coachella, to streamline water deliveries to Indian reservations throughout California. The bill allows water districts to enter into voluntary agreements with sovereign Indian tribal governments with reservations that lie outside water district boundaries to provide water to the reservations without requiring tribes to annex additional land as they must do now.

We live in a desert environment, and water availability is a paramount issue which can be doubly true for many Indian reservations that are often located in remote areas without easy access to potable water.

Until now, the only remedy has been for tribes to annex land between their reservations and nearby water districts. This is a costly, time-consuming process involving federal, state and local governments that impose regulations infringing on tribal sovereignty.

AB 1361 requires agencies such as the Local Agency Formation Commission to impose conditions on the extension of water services to reservations similar to those imposed on other agencies without discrimination. The bill’s local supporters include the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, the San Luis Rey Indian Water Authority, the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation along with local water agencies including the Valley Center Municipal Water District, the San Diego County Water Authority, the city of Escondido and the Vista Irrigation District.

Over 100 federally recognized Indian tribes lie within the state of California, and obtaining a secure supply of water has been a longstanding issue. Since eight separate reservations are located within the 75th Assembly District, I am very pleased to report that AB 1361 has just been signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, represents the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.

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