With New Zealand’s Southern Alps looming above, about 30 members of the Winnemem Wintu tribe from Northern California sat on the windswept bank of the Rakaia River cradling in their hands dark and wormy salmon fry, a long-lost relative finally found. As they released the salmon into a gurgling rivulet, a couple of Winnemem broke down in tears while others began softly singing a prayer song, barely louder than the breeze.
The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled on whether Indian tribes hold special rights to the groundwater beneath their reservations, and the court will now have a chance to settle the question in a case that could redraw the lines in water disputes across the country.
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’ 4-year-old legal fight to assert rights to groundwater took a step forward on Wednesday as a federal judge agreed to let the lawsuit proceed while water agencies appeal an earlier ruling to the Supreme Court.
Deep in California’s coastal woods near the Oregon border, the [Yurok] reservation straddles the mighty Klamath River, the tribe’s lifeblood for centuries. … Drought sparked a water war in 2001, between the Indians along the river and farmers in Oregon who relied on upper Klamath water for irrigation.
Native American communities are bracing for a public health crisis this year in California’s misty, rugged northwestern corner. In the Pacific Ocean off the mouth of the Klamath River, record-low numbers of fall-run adult Chinook salmon are ready to make their annual migration up the river and its primary tributary, the Trinity River, to spawn.
For the first time in its history, the Karuk Tribe will be limiting ceremonial salmon harvests for tribal members because of the record low forecast for returning Chinook salmon on the Klamath River. … The tribe’s announcement came as the Pacific Fishery Management Council met in Sacramento to discuss catch limitations for this year’s salmon season.
California tribes and fishermen stated Thursday they will be calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a fisheries disaster because of the dismal forecast for this year’s salmon season. … These statements came exactly a year after top state, federal and tribal officials gathered at the mouth of the Klamath River to sign a renewed agreement to remove four dams from the river.
The Coachella Valley’s largest water agencies will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to settle the question of whether the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has a federally established right to groundwater beneath the tribe’s reservation. … The case is likely to set an important precedent for tribes across the country.
A federal appeals court has rejected the Desert Water Agency’s challenge to a Department of the Interior regulation, denying the agency’s argument that the rule could prevent it from collecting millions of dollars in revenue from customers in the Palm Springs area.
A federal appeals court sided with the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians on Tuesday in a landmark water case, upholding a ruling that the tribe has federally established rights to groundwater in the Coachella Valley.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation ramped up flows on the lower Klamath River on Friday morning in an attempt to reduce the risk of threatened fish from contracting a deadly parasite as had occurred in years past. The move came just over a day after a federal judge found that the bureau’s past dam operations had caused harm to threatened juvenile Coho salmon in 2014 and 2015.
The U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker declared a fisheries disaster for nine salmon and crab fisheries in Alaska, Washington and California in January. Of the nine fisheries, the two in California include the Dungeness and rock crab fishery and the Yurok Tribe Klamath River Chinook salmon fishery.
River restoration on the Trinity River, the largest tributary for the Klamath River, was not walk through the park. Instead it was restoring what used to be labeled a dumping zone and transforming it into salmon habitat by creating a separate channel for the river.
The Agua Caliente tribe in Palm Springs argues it has a right to groundwater. Stanford law professor Barton H. “Buzz” Thompson explains how a federal court could soon resolve century-old uncertainties around the issue.
Lawyers for the Coachella Valley’s largest water districts and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians presented their arguments to a federal appeals court in a water rights case that could set a precedent for tribes across the country.
The Winnemem Wintu Tribe of Shasta County has been tracing the journey that follows the spawning route of the winter-run chinook salmon to raise public awareness of the fish’s plight, said Caleen Sisk, the Winemmem’s chief and spiritual leader.
The Bureau of Reclamation released water from the Trinity Reservoir early Thursday morning to the lower Klamath River to help prevent the spread a parasitic fish disease, within Chinook salmon. Supplemental flows from the Lewiston Dam will also extend into late September to protect the fall salmon run.
The American River, with headwaters in the Tahoe and El Dorado National forests of the Sierra Nevada, is the birthplace of the California Gold Rush. It currently serves as a major water supply, recreational destination and habitat for hundreds of species. The geologically diverse North, Middle and South forks comprise the American River or the Río de los Americanos, as it was called during California’s Mexican rule.
From a Hoopa Valley Tribe press release: Today, the Hoopa Valley Tribe (HVT) filed its lawsuit against the federal government for violations of Endangered Species Act (ESA) regarding its management actions on the Klamath River, California’s second largest river system.
In a case that could have big implications for dams and other development in the Northwest, a federal appeals court panel said Monday that Native American tribes have a right not only to fish for salmon, but for there to be salmon to catch — a ruling that affirms the duty of the United States to protect the habitat of the prized fish under treaties dating back more than 150 years.
Anecita Agustinez has a unique job at a California state agency – she dedicates 100 percent of her time to Native American tribal issues. Her position as tribal policy advisor for the Department of Water Resources was created in 2013 following Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2011 implementation of Executive Order B-10-11, which required state agencies to develop consultation policies with Tribes.
The tribe announced Wednesday it has filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the Bureau of Reclamation and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
A Cabinet secretary, two governors, a congressman, tribal leaders and others will be in Del Norte County on Wednesday morning to announce a plan that has been debated and delayed for years: the removal of dams on the Klamath River.
The Obama administration and California officials are expected to announce a landmark agreement Wednesday to tear down four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River, bypassing Congress to restore a major salmon fishery on the Oregon border.
The Obama administration is sounding alarms over potential dangers in the water supplies on the nation’s Indian reservations, saying the vast majority of tribal members live on reservations that haven’t adopted federally approved standards.
Nearly three years after the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians sued the Coachella Valley’s largest water districts, the two sides remain just as far apart in a case that could force changes in how water is managed locally and set a precedent for similar disputes nationwide.
The regulations adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board require all those who divert water from rivers and streams to measure and report how much they use annually. … In a separate decision, the state water board ended a more than decade-long dispute with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians by deciding not to revoke a license held by the tribe.
Three million gallons of contaminated water from the Gold King Mine poured into Colorado’s Animas River in August, laden with cadmium, lead and arsenic. … Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates, a farmer, spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the effect of the spill on his life and the Navajo Nation.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced more than $30 million in funding to native tribes in California and Nevada. The announcement came at the 23rd Annual Regional Tribal Conference Tuesday in Reno, Nevada.
The following was issued by the Yurok Tribe: Over the past decade, the Yurok Tribe has worked diligently to bring together diverse irrigation, environmental, tribal, power industry, federal, and state parties to develop a workable solution for the Klamath River that would remove the Klamath River dams, restore the fishery, and protect tribal water rights. … Unfortunately, Congress has failed to pass legislation authorizing the agreements …
It might seem easy, summarizing the conflict over the Trinity River in Northern California. But amid record drought, this long-running and singular battle has become a case study about the difficulties in balancing Western water use.
With ceremonial dam release flows expected to reach the Trinity River waters near Hoopa this evening, federal and tribal officials are still working out the details and timeline on another set of dam releases proposed to protect salmonids on the lower Klamath River from deadly infections caused by warm, low-flowing waters.
A federal plan to prevent a potential fish kill this summer on the lower Klamath River drew criticism on Monday from Hoopa Valley and Yurok tribe officials, who condemned the proposal as a lukewarm response to the threat of rising water temperatures and deadly parasites.
As California implements a landmark law to balance demand for groundwater with available supplies, an Indian tribe’s lawsuit in federal court has the potential to add new layers of complexity to managing a prized resource that is in short supply during California’s worst ever drought.
Members of the Klamath Tribes are speaking out against the Klamath water settlements and the new land base being written into them. … The land base transfer now being considered is part of SB 133, the Klamath Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act.
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to send a letter to the federal government making a formal request for its promised 50,000 acre-feet of Trinity River water in advance of another summer of drought and possible litigation.
The Office of Planning and Research released a Draft Advisory earlier this month entitled “Discussion Draft Technical Advisory: AB 52 and Tribal Cultural Resources in CEQA” to provide guidance to lead agencies regarding changes to CEQA requirements relating to tribal cultural resources pursuant to Assembly Bill 52.
While the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation began releasing Lewiston Dam water into the Trinity River on Wednesday as part of an ongoing restoration project, Humboldt County and the Hoopa Valley Tribe are seeking for the agency to make another release later this year to prevent fish-kill conditions.
The parties in a dispute over the fate of cultural materials discovered in Sutter County have expressed a willingness to solve the issue, but the path toward an agreement remains uncertain and time is short.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the [United Auburn Indian Community] UAIC disagree about the return of the items uncovered last summer during the Feather River West Levee project, even as both sides meet to resolve the issue.
The chairman of the Klamath Tribes said Friday that the unexpected sale of private timberlands the tribes had hoped to regain to rebuild their lost reservation jeopardizes agreements to settle longstanding battles over water.
Plans for a long-sought municipal aquatic center in Windsor were introduced this week by the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, who are willing to pay to build it in exchange for obtaining water and sewer service to the tribe’s planned housing project.
Elected and tribal officials applauded a U.S. Department of the Interior legal opinion released on Friday, which calls for Humboldt County and downstream water users to receive the annual 50,000 acre-feet of Trinity Reservoir water promised to the area under a law and a contract approved nearly 60 years ago.
More than 45 years after five North County Indian tribes filed suit against two water agencies and the U.S. Government for having diverted 90 percent of the water flowing through the San Luis Rey, a settlement agreement has been signed by all the parties. All that now remains is for the deal to be approved by Congress early next year.
Windsor could finally be getting a long-desired municipal swimming facility, courtesy of the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, in exchange for the town extending water and sewer service to a planned tribal housing project.
Two water districts, the federal government, and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians are laying out their arguments in a lawsuit over water, focusing on the question of whether the tribe has rights to groundwater.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $5.4 million in funding to invest in Northern Calif. tribes’ environmental programs, water infrastructure development, community education and capacity building. The announcement was made at the 22nd annual Regional Tribal Conference in Sacramento, Calif.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $5.4 million in funding to invest in Central Calif. tribes for environmental programs, water infrastructure development, community education and capacity building. The announcement was made at the 22nd Annual Regional Tribal Conference in Sacramento, Calif.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $5.6 million in funding to invest in Southern Calif. tribes for environmental programs, water infrastructure development, community education and capacity building. The announcement was made at the 22nd Annual Regional Tribal Conference in Sacramento, Calif.
This 109-page publication details the importance of protecting source water – surface water and groundwater – on reservations from pollution and includes a step-by-step work plan for tribes interested in developing a protection plan for their drinking water. The workbook is designed to serve as a template for such programs, with forms and tables for photocopying. It also offers a simplified approach for assessment and protection that focuses on identifying and managing immediate contamination threats.
This 16-page booklet looks at potential threats to drinking water sources, and common contaminant practices and sources on reservations. The booklet outlines what tribes can do to protect their sources of drinking water and how individual tribal members can contribute to making those efforts successful.
20-minute version of the 2012 documentary The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues related to complex water management disputes in the Klamath River Basin. Narrated by actress Frances Fisher.
For over a century, the Klamath River Basin along the Oregon and California border has faced complex water management disputes. As relayed in this 2012, 60-minute public television documentary narrated by actress Frances Fisher, the water interests range from the Tribes near the river, to energy producer PacifiCorp, farmers, municipalities, commercial fishermen, environmentalists – all bearing legitimate arguments for how to manage the water. After years of fighting, a groundbreaking compromise may soon settle the battles with two epic agreements that hold the promise of peace and fish for the watershed. View an excerpt from the documentary here.
This 30-minute DVD explains the importance of developing a source water assessment program (SWAP) for tribal lands and by profiling three tribes that have created SWAPs. Funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the video complements the Foundation’s 109-page workbook, Protecting Drinking Water: A Workbook for Tribes, which includes a step-by-step work plan for Tribes interested in developing a protection plan for their drinking water.
This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Klamath River Watershed. The map text explains the many issues facing this vast, 15,000-square-mile watershed, including fish restoration; agricultural water use; and wetlands. Also included are descriptions of the separate, but linked, Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Agreement, and the next steps associated with those agreements. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Truckee River Basin, including the Newlands Project, Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe. Map text explains the issues surrounding the use of the Truckee-Carson rivers, Lake Tahoe water quality improvement efforts, fishery restoration and the effort to reach compromise solutions to many of these issues.
This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, illustrates the water resources available for Nevada cities, agriculture and the environment. It features natural and manmade water resources throughout the state, including the Truckee and Carson rivers, Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake and the course of the Colorado River that forms the state’s eastern boundary.
Reprinted in 2002 to include the Colorado River Delta region south of the border, the 32×38 inch Colorado River Water Map depicts the seven Western states that share the Colorado River. The Colorado River supplies water to nearly 25 million people and in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the Republic of Mexico. Text on this beautiful map, suitable for framing, explains the river’s apportionment and history.
The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law, recognized as the most thorough explanation of California water rights law available to non-lawyers, traces the authority for water flowing in a stream or reservoir, from a faucet or into an irrigation ditch through the complex web of California water rights.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the principles of IRWM, its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water management approach.
The Colorado River provides water to more than 35 million people and 4 million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000 square miles in the southwestern United States. The 32-page Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River covers the history of the river’s development; negotiations over division of its water; the items that comprise the Law of the River; and a chronology of significant Colorado River events.
This printed issue of Western Water explores the historic nature of some of the key agreements in recent years, future challenges, and what leading state representatives identify as potential “worst-case scenarios.” Much of the content for this issue of Western Water came from the in-depth panel discussions at the Colorado River Symposium. The Foundation will publish the full proceedings of the Symposium in 2012.
This printed issue of Western Water explores some of the major challenges facing Colorado River stakeholders: preparing for climate change, forging U.S.-Mexico water supply solutions and dealing with continued growth in the basins states. Much of the content for this issue of Western Water came from the in-depth panel discussions at the September 2009 Colorado River Symposium.
This issue of Western Water examines the challenges facing state, federal and tribal officials and other stakeholders as they work to manage terminal lakes. It includes background information on the formation of these lakes, and overviews of the water quality, habitat and political issues surrounding these distinctive bodies of water. Much of the information in this article originated at the September 2004 StateManagement Issues at Terminal Water Bodies/Closed Basins conference.