Senator Padilla’s bill, also known as the Tule River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2022, would ratify water settlements that were made in 2007 between the Tule tribe and downstream water users, such as agricultural communities that depend on watersheds from the same river that Tule depends on. The bill would add 5,828 acre-feet of surface water for the tribe every year from the South Fork of the Tule River, this is because the reservation would be allowed to store water from the river..
Additionally, if the bill passed, $518 million from the U.S. Treasury would be deposited into the “Tule River Tribe Water Development Projects Account” that will aid in fixing water infrastructure. This amount is far above the $30 million the tribe had initially asked legislators for earlier this year. The Treasury would also deposit $50 million into the Tule River Tribe OM&R Account, which funds any ongoing activity or maintenance of these water projects, the bill stated. Lastly, the bill would put 10,000 acres of land from the Sequoia National Forest into a trust for the Tule tribe so that they can, “manage the headwaters of the watershed,” according to Padilla’s press release.
“Water is a sacred and necessary resource for Tribal Nations and for all people,” Senator Padilla said in a statement. “It is long past time for the federal government to live up to its trust and treaty responsibilities to the Tule River Tribe.”