Bono Mack Bill Ratifies Water Rights Agreement in California

Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) on Dec. 11 introduced legislation to resolve an ongoing lawsuit over water resources in Riverside County and ratify a comprehensive agreement between the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indians and the United States and California water districts, including Rancho California Water District (RCWD) and Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD).

The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indians Water Rights Settlement Act (H.R. 4285) is broadly supported by local leaders and residents.

“This bill is the direct result of many years of hard work and time invested by the Tribe, our local water districts, and local leaders to reach an agreement on critical water resources,” said Bono Mack. “I praise their collaborative efforts and am proud to offer this legislation that will bring needed relief to the Tribe and local residents.

“Given the water shortage challenges in the California’s Central Valley and recent drought designations in Riverside County, we cannot ignore how important water is to a community. This legislation will bring an end to decades of litigation and uncertainty on water rights issues in the community. I am pleased that this bill will help compliment the planning already under way to improve our water supply and recycling efforts to meet our region’s current and future water needs,” said Bono Mack.

Matt Stone, general manager of Rancho California Water District, said, “Rancho California Water District appreciates the efforts of Representative Bono Mack in sponsoring this legislation. We look forward to working with all the settlement parties for passage of the bill.”

The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indians is a federally recognized Indian tribe with a reservation of over 5,000 acres located northwest of San Diego, Calif., near the city of Temecula. Pechanga Creek, a tributary of the Santa Margarita River, runs through the length of the Pechanga Reservation.

The Tribe and other parties have, in recent years, adopted an approach of negotiation and reconciliation with the primary water users in its portion of the Santa Margarita River Watershed, primarily RCWD and EMWD. All parties worked toward certainty of water supplies in the future and the cooperative management of the local water basin.

Bono Mack’s legislation ratifies a comprehensive settlement agreement with the U.S. and California water districts, including RCWD and Eastern Municipal Water District EMWD, and resolves longstanding claims to water rights in the Santa Margarita River Watershed.

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