Monday, August 19, 2013

Student Article on Native American Water Rights Cited in Valley Water Wars

A request from Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Chairman Vincent Armenta to 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal about a “government-to-government dialogue” will be considered Tuesday by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

The meeting follows a recent announcement the tribe applied for fee-to-trust acquisition of a nearly 1,400-acre agricultural site about 2 miles from the Santa Ynez Reservation involving local water rights.

Two Santa Ynez Valley groups opposed to any annexation into the reservation — Preservation of Los Olivos and Preservation of Santa Ynez — have said they “strongly object” to Carbajal and the county opening any dialogue with the tribe. The objections are based on the fee-to-trust application filing and a recent law review article from Hastings College of the Law arguing that the Chumash can claim reserved water rights on their reservation, “This could devalue property in Santa Barbara County and threaten the water rights and municipal water rights of residents in the entire county,” said POLO president Kathy Cleary in a statement.

UC Hastings student Joanna Meldrum’s article “Reservation and Quantification of Indian Groundwater Rights in California,” published in the Summer 2013 issue of Hastings West-Northwest Journal of Environmental law and Policy, Volume 19 Number 2, has found center stage in a water fight beween the Chumas tribe and local communitiies.

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