Tule River Tribe faces constant water woes

'This is home. This is all we have left of all that land we once roamed.. we don't want our children's children to deal with this'

Elisa Navarro Image
Saturday, August 27, 2022
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The Tule River Indian Tribe has been battling a shortage of water for decades. Now, tribal leaders are speaking up and hope for relief from the state.

PORTERVILLE, calif. (KFSN) -- Members of the Tule River Indian Tribe say they're coping with a lack of water on their land - and the problem is only getting worse.

About 1,600 people live at the Reservation near Porterville, and leaders say their water supply is a constant battle.

Neil Peyron, chairman of the tribe, took Action News around, showing us their reality when it comes to water... like dry wells.

"This reservation will be 150 years old, Jan 9th of 2023, and it's been a problem since then. And we don't want our children or children's children to deal with this. We want to fix this now," Peyron says.

He says the last thing they want is to move away.

"This is home. This is all we have left of all that land we once roamed. Our community, they want to be here, they want to come home."

Their home is in the South Valley - about 90 square miles of land starting from 900 feet of elevation and capping at 7600.

For the last four months, some families have depended on bottled water and manually-filled water tanks to get by.

Peyron says with the drought only getting worse and the river level decreasing, they need a long-term solution to help the community and welcome many who want to live on this land.

"We have a lot of members who want to come home to the reservation, but we can't provide housing because we cannot provide enough water," he says.

The current water crisis is also the primary reason the Eagle Mountain Casino is being relocated since it used 40,000 gallons of water a day.

"We need help, we need assistance. We've reached out to the federal government, the state government to see what can happen," Peyron says.

The tribe is hopeful state leaders will help with the requested $6.6 million grant to improve water infrastructure as a long-term solution. That includes improving the existing dam and the water delivery system.