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California | Central Valley | Environment & Forest Defense

Inter-Tribal Water Commission Recommends No Vote on Water Bond
by Dan Bacher
Thursday Jun 17th, 2010 10:09 AM
"The Department of Water Resources and their private contractors believe that 'No Indians' have ever lived in the Delta, which now they are testing for the new canal," the Commission states. "They are not following Section 106 or CEQA requirements in including Tribal participation."
Inter-Tribal Water Commission Recommends No Vote On Water Bond

by Dan Bacher

The Water Commission of the Inter-Tribal Council of California (ITCC), in a powerfully worded statement, is urging people to vote "No" on the $11.14 water bond on the November ballot.

The water bond/water policy package, pushed through the Legislature by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg last November, creates a clear path to the construction of a peripheral canal and new dams. California Indian Tribes, recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, Delta farmers, environmental justice communities and the vast majority of environmental groups were completely excluded from the back door negotiations that led to the passage of the water package.

The Inter-Tribal Water Commission pinpoints three reasons for voting no on the water bond: "1. The water bond was written without Tribal inclusion; 2. Language excludes 'Tribes' from eligibility criteria; and 3. Tribes Water Rights will be excluded again through this conveyance."

"The Department of Water Resources and their private contractors believe that 'No Indians' have ever lived in the Delta, which now they are testing for the new canal," the Commission states. "They are not following Section 106 or CEQA requirements in including Tribal participation."

"Construction for existing and new proposed dams and reservoirs will entitle private ownership to individuals that can afford to buy those senior rights," the Commission continues. "Tribes will not have the opportunity to secure bond water money to develop access to water strategies, address lack of sustained water for fish and forestry, traditional cultural uses, potable water, etc."

The statement also points out how the proposed peripheral canal will "destroy tribal villages and burial sites;" will raise the cost of residential and tribal business water rights and rates; and will "further the privatization" of public trust waters, "again leaving out Tribal Water Rights."

"The federal and state governments have not lived up to the original Central Valley Project (CVP) agreements to Tribes to this date. If the water bond passes, it will FOREVER eliminate Native programs funded through the state," the Commission concludes.

I applaud the Commission for issuing this strong statement against the water bond. We must challenge the politics of exclusion, as exemplified in the water bond and the campaign by the Governor and corporate agribusiness to build a peripheral canal and new dams, and defeat the water bond at the ballot box in November.

The Commission joins a diverse group of political leaders, environmental and consumer groups, ethnic and tribal organizations and fishing groups in urging Californians to vote no on the Water Bond.

The water bond will help create the infrastructure to build a peripheral canal and new dams. Canal opponents believe that the "new conveyance" is likely to lead to the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta smelt, green sturgeon and southern resident killer whales. The canal/tunnel will cost an estimated $23 billion to $53.8 billion water bond at a time when California is in its greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.

“The peripheral canal is a big, stupid idea that doesn’t make any sense from a tribal environmental perspective,” said Mark Franco, headman of the Winnemem Wintu (McCloud River) Tribe. “Building a canal to save the Delta is like a doctor inserting an arterial bypass from your shoulder to your hand– it will cause your elbow to die just like taking water out of the Delta through a peripheral canal will cause the Delta to die.”

Statewide environmental and consumer organizations opposing the bond include Sierra Club California, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Clean Water Action, California Coastkeeper Alliance, California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), Planning and Conservation League, Desal Response Group and Food and Water Watch.

Local and regional environmental organizations in opposition include Butte Environmental Council, Friends of the River, Restore the Delta, Sacramento Audobon Society, Sierra Nevada Alliance, Southern California Watershed Alliance, Urban Semillas, Cultivating Sustainable Communities, The Downstream Coalition, Ebbetts Pass Forest Watch and Friends of the Trinity River.

Ethnic and tribal associations opposing the bond include Hispanics for Political Action, La Raza Centro Legal and Winnemem Wintu Tribe. Fishing and recreational organizations in opposition include the California Fisheries Network, Half Moon Bay Fishermen's Association Salmon Water Now, San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Association, Small Boat Commercial Salmon Fishermens' Association and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

Expect more organizations to declare their opposition to the water bond as the November election draws closer.

For more information about the Inter-Tribal Water Commission, contact: Randy Yonemura, honortraditions [at] mail.com, or Atta P. Stevenson, wtalker101 [at] yahoo.com.

For more information about opposing the water bond, go to: http://www.nowaterbond.com.

Below is the complete statement from the Inter-Tribal Water Commission:


“NO” on Water Bond

The Inter-Tribal Water Commission recommends voting “NO” on the California “Water Bond” on the November ballot.

Why?
1. The water bond was written without Tribal inclusion.
2. Language excludes “Tribes” from eligibility criteria.
3. Tribes Water Rights will be excluded again through this conveyance.

Construction for existing and new proposed dams and reservoirs will entitle private ownership to individuals that can afford to buy those senior rights. Tribes will not have the opportunity to secure bond water money to develop access to water strategies, address lack of sustained water for fish and forestry, traditional cultural uses, potable water, etc.

The new proposed canal will destroy Tribal villages and burial sites.

The Department of Water Resources and their private contractors believe that “No Indians” have ever lived in the Delta, which now they are testing for the new canal. They are not following Section 106 or CEQA requirements in including Tribal participation.

The water bond will raise the cost of residential and Tribal business water rates in California. The passage will further the privatization of federal, state and local government waters, again leaving out Tribal Water Rights!

Tribes are left out of the environmental process, as they are now, which includes Floodsafe, thereby excluding water for wild salmon.

The federal and state governments have not lived up to the original Central Valley Project (CVP) agreements to Tribes to this date.

The stranglehold of junior water rights handlers as Westland and Metropolitan Water Districts will be elevated to senior water rights. Again, this excludes Tribal Water Rights.

If the water bond passes it will FOREVER eliminate Native programs funded through the state.

Inter-Tribal Water Commission