Escondido, CA

Water for Tribal Lands

~ Guest Opinion

Indian Tribes in our arid region need access to reliable water to continue to live on  reservation lands.   This session, I jointly authored Assembly bill 1361 with Assemblymember 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 (LAFCO) 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 Luiseño 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 Governor Brown.

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Assemblymember 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.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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