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Metropolitan to Supply Water to Sycuan Tribe’s Unannexed Area of San Diego Reservation
Water reliability for an unannexed portion of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation’s Reservation took a major step forward earlier this week when the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California agreed to water deliveries to 227 acres of developed land on the tribe’s reservation in San Diego County. The federally recognized tribe has historically relied on independent groundwater supplies to serve this portion of its reservation and sought a more reliable supply.
Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger acknowledged the need for water reliability on the reservation saying, “Metropolitan delivers about 85 percent of the water used in San Diego County. It is important for the Sycuan tribe to have access to the same high-quality, reliable water supply enjoyed by the rest of the region.”
The water service agreement between Metropolitan, the Sycuan tribe, San Diego County Water Authority and Padre Dam Municipal Water District, will provide water to an unincorporated area of San Diego County, just east of El Cajon. The tribe’s original 640-acre reservation were never annexed by any water district and they relied on groundwater for the tribe’s needs. More recently acquired land on the reservation is serviced by the Padre Dam Municipal Water District and the Otay Water District. But 227 acres lacked reliable water services.
“As a responsible government providing a wide range of services to the public – including law enforcement, firefighting and healthcare – the Sycuan tribe requires a dependable water supply,” said Sycuan Tribal Chairman Cody Martinez. “This agreement with Metropolitan and our local water agencies provides that – to our tribal members, employees, customers, and residents – and further ensures Sycuan’s leadership role in creating positive economic opportunities throughout the region.”
The agreement between the Sycuan tribe and Metropolitan and the other water districts is similar to a water supply agreement approved in 2016 with the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians. A state law passed in 2016 (AB 2470, Gonzalez) facilitated the agreement, allowing for the delivery of and payment for water without requiring that the land be fully annexed. Under the agreement, the Sycuan tribe will follow all the same terms and conditions and receive the same service as other Metropolitan customers.
“Metropolitan has an established record of finding cooperative ways to deliver water to tribes in our service area, including agreements with the Soboba, Pechanga, and now the Sycuan,” said Metropolitan board Chairman Randy Record. “This action represents our commitment to supporting the communities we serve throughout Southern California.”