Tule River Tribe Requests $6.6 Million To Improve Existing Water Infrastructure

PORTERVILLE, CA – Tule River Tribe Chairman Neil Peyron has called on the California Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom to assist the tribe with its immediate water crisis.
“Every summer, the Tule River Tribe faces water shortages,” said Chairman Neil Peyron. “This year, the problems are exacerbated by climate change, and one of our wells is running dry. As a result, dozens of residents must rely on bottled water or disrupt their families and move.”
Most summers, the Tule River tribal people must adjust to insufficient water for drinking, basic hygiene, and sanitation. However, this year’s problems are much worse. With one well going dry, dozens of residents in one neighborhood are left without water.
Tule River tribal leaders organized donations of bottled water for tribal members. However, the water is only available for drinking and cooking, forcing some tribal children to miss school and adults to miss work because they cannot bathe or wash laundry.
With the lack of water, the tribe is also concerned with fire protection. California is in the middle of fire season, and the tribal lands are still recovering from the 2017 Pier Fire and the 2021 Windy Fire.
Tribal leadership has worked for decades to address water issues that face the Tule River Tribe. The Tule River Tribe is close to securing a long-term solution to its water issues through a water rights settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Interior.
However, the federal agreement takes time, and the tribe needs assistance now. In the interim, the tribe asked the state earlier this year for short-term assistance. Specifically, the tribe asked for $30 million to address water infrastructure upgrades. The budget request includes support from nearly two dozen legislators. Since that request, one of the wells on tribal land has gone dry.
The tribe has reduced its request to $6.6 million in order to upgrade the existing reservoir and water treatment facility in hopes of obtaining the Governor’s support during the final days of the legislative session.
“Water is the life of the reservation,” said Peyron. “We simply cannot survive without receiving some help.”
Located east of Porterville, the Tule River Tribe has more than 1,900 members, with more than 1,500 residents living on tribal land and hundreds more looking to move to the reservation. The tribe has lived on the reservation since it was established in 1873. The reservation covers more than 85 sq. mi. of rugged Sierra Nevada foothills.