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Indigenous Group Sues State Over Recycled Water Management

PRESS RELEASE | FRIDAY, JUL 22, 2016

Wishtoyo Foundation filed a lawsuit Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court against the State Water Resources Control Board over the use and management of recycled water throughout California. Wishtoyo alleges that new regulations issued by the State Board on June 7, 2016, fail to adhere to the requirements of the California Constitution, Water Code, and Public Trust Doctrine.

Wishtoyo’s Petition for Writ of Mandate seeks to ensure that recycled water, like all of California’s scarce water resources, is used and managed reasonably to protect over-drafted groundwater aquifers, and protect and restore California’s in-stream public resources.

wishtoyoThe lawsuit is a cornerstone of the Wishtoyo Water Initiative campaign to achieve integrated and sustainable management of all of the state’s water resources as called for in the California Water Action Plan. “To address the alarming water scarcity issues confronting us, we have to manage all sources of fresh water together, and ensure new sources are not used to continue and encourage unsustainable water uses,” said Mati Waiya, Chumash Ceremonial Elder and Wishtoyo Foundation Executive Director.

“The California Constitution is clear – the State Water Board must ensure all water, even recycled water, is used reasonably and not wasted,” said Jason Weiner, General Counsel and Water Initiative Director for Wishtoyo Foundation. “When new water is brought into a water scarce region, it should not be utilized to perpetuate decades of unsustainable practices that have led to the mining of groundwater aquifers and the draining of California’s rivers and streams. Rather, it should be managed to assist with supply challenges, and when feasible, in a manner that leaves more water in-stream or in the ground.”

“In addition to its state wide significance, the lawsuit has significant implications for Ventura County because local recycled water projects should be managed to help restore the Santa Clara River’s in-stream cultural resources the Chumash depend upon, endangered fish and wildlife, including the Southern California Steelhead, and the recreational and educational opportunities for economically and politically marginalized residents in Oxnard, Ventura, Saticoy, El Rio, Santa Paula, Fillmore, and Piru,” said Mati Waiya.

Wishtoyo filed an earlier case on December 8, 2015 against the State Water Board and Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board over a recycled water permit issued to the City of Oxnard for the City’s Advanced Water Purification Facility, also in the Los Angeles Superior Court. Representing Wishtoyo in both cases is its General Counsel and Water Initiative Director Jason Weiner, along with Caroline Koch and Daniel Cooper of Lawyers for Clean Waters in San Francisco, and John B. Murdock in Santa Monica.

About the Wishtoyo Foundation

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Founded in 1997, Wishtoyo is a 501(c)(3) non-profit grassroots organization with over 700 members consisting of Ventura County’s diverse residents and Chumash Native Americans. Wishtoyo’s mission is to preserve and protect Chumash culture, the culture of all of diverse communities, and the environment that our current and future generations depend upon. Wishtoyo shares traditional Chumash Native American beliefs, cultural practices, songs, dances, stories, and values with the public in its Chumash Discovery Village and through educational programs in schools to promote environmental awareness and natural resources stewardship. Wishtoyo also protects, preserves, and restores the ecological integrity and water quality of inland and coastal waterbodies in throughout the traditional Chumash range in Ventura, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Louis Obispo counties, and throughout California, through restoration projects, scientific analysis, advocacy, litigation, and community organizing, outreach and empowerment. To learn more about Wishtoyo visit us at www.wishtoyo.org.