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Collaborative Process Helps with Groundwater Dispute


In 2000, the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians filed a lawsuit which sought damages and injunctive relief for the continuing drainage of water from the tribe’s reservation into the San Jacinto tunnel.  The lawsuit most likely would have resulted in a judicial resolution of water rights in the area.

The lawsuit was a catalyst for the formation of a committee of two water districts, two cities, several private pumpers and members of an Indian Tribe that have been working ever since collaboratively on water issues in the San Jacinto Valley, Riverside County.

The goal of the committee was to address the annual overdraft and the need for supplemental supplies by establishing a cooperative groundwater management plan to manage the basins and to insure that groundwater was being fairly and beneficially used and that it would be available for the future. The California Department of Water Resources provided both technical assistance and facilitation to the committee. Decisions have been made by consensus and the final products work product had to be acceptable to every member. More than 15 agreements have been drafted and implemented.

Source: Dale Schafer, California State University Sacramento (personal communication, September 19, 2008).


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