Tribes in Washington ask DOI to file lawsuit for water rights

The Lummi Nation and the Nooksack Tribe have asked the Interior Department to file a lawsuit that will determine the extent of their water rights.

The tribes have treaty rights on the Nooksack River. Quantification of their rights is necessary before resolving water negotiations in Washington.

"Treaty-reserved water rights are outside the state system, and the only way that the tribes can have documented and clearly defined water rights is through a quantification judgment," said Merle Jefferson, Lummi Natural Resources Department Director. "We encourage others to support our request to resolve this long-standing issue so that we can all have certainty and can plan accordingly."

"There is no surprise here," said Bob Kelly, Chairman of the Nooksack tribe. "We all knew that federal court action would be needed to establish the Indian water rights. We made a lot of progress together, and, if the parties continue to cooperate, this can be noncontroversial."

Get the Story:
Press Release: Tribes seek federal support to resolve Nooksack basin water rights conflict (Washington Department of Ecology 1/10)
Tribes Want Clarification Of Local Water Rights (KGMI-TV 1/11)

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