Update on Disputes Between Farmers and Tribes Over Water

Farmers and Tribes have a long standing feud over The Trinity River. Since the 1930s, the farmers have been using water from the river and a dam was approved in 1955 with construction finishing in 1962. The problem is that the Yurok have relied on the fishing from the surrounding rivers to survive. When the farmers are depleting the water levels, the fish die off and there isn’t enough food for the members of the tribe.

While federal officials have stepped in to reduce the amount of water usage farmers have, there are still concerns. The water is still depleting due to drought conditions, so even when the farmers are using less, the levels still continue to go down. The result is a lawsuit being filed to help combat the usage of the water. The belief is that it is better to hold on to the water that is already there, rather than to continue using it and worrying about the results later on. With a Coachella Valley tribal attorney in place, the tribes hope to combat this concern.

As of right now, according to the Sacramento Bee, judges are limiting the use of water. But farmers aren’t backing down on this. It is uncertain what the future holds. One thing is for certain, unless California receives more rain and irrigation delivery cutbacks remain in force, the water levels will get to the point where there aren’t enough fish to thrive. This will harm the tribes and could lead to further concerns for them. As it stands, this is one of the hottest cases in California courts right now and it’ll be interesting to see what direction it goes in.

Thanks to the Sacramento Bee and Michael Doyle for their insightful piece on this pressing situation.