California and Tribal Partners Secure Critical Water Supply to Support Native American Farmers

California and Tribal Partners Secure Critical Water Supply to Support Native American Farmers
Published: Jun 11, 2024
DWR staff and members of the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe commemorate the water transfer agreement.
State Expedites Water Transfers to Meet Both Long- and Short-Term Needs

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Working together to support local Tribal farmers, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe have expedited two water transfers to meet immediate water supply needs and to address long-term demands north of the Tulare Lake area. Working with the Tulare Lake Irrigation District, DWR and the Tachi Yokut Tribe entered into a contractual agreement to institute both a temporary and permanent transfer of water resulting in over 600-acre feet of additional water for the area.

“California remains committed to getting water to communities that need it most. This successful effort is a direct result of meaningful consultation and communication with our Tribal partners and the hard work of our staff to ensure we can move water to places in critical need,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth.

“This monumental accomplishment began with opportunity, determination, belief and the decision to create a better future for our Tribe for generations to come. We would like to thank DWR, Tulare Lake Irrigation District, and especially DWR’s Office of Tribal Affairs Executive Manager Anecita Agustinez for this enormous achievement. Working together gave the Tribe a much-valued relationship for years to come, and we look forward to the continued relationship in the future,” said Tachi Yokut Tribal Council Chairman Leo Sisco.

“This transfer represents a historic moment as it is believed to be one of the few, if not only, times a Tribe has acquired contractual water rights such as those from Tulare Lake. In acquiring these rights, the Tribe further solidifies its inherent status as a sovereign nation and enhances intergovernmental relationships with the State of California. Securing water rights is not only integral for the continued agricultural and economic growth of the Tribe, but also in the continued growth and support of our community and Tribal membership. We hope that leading the way in this exercise of Tribal Sovereignty will impact not only our Tribe, but all Tribes, in reaching equality with state and local governments through meaningful negotiation and cooperation,” Chairman Sisco said.

Located in the Central Valley, the Tachi Yokut Tribe is the owner of Tachi Farms, LLC. This water transfer -- drawing from the Empire West Side Irrigation District and Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District -- was critical to the Tachi Farm’s purpose of serving the social, economic, educational, and health needs of the Tribe.

In addition to providing a reliable water supply, the water transfer will also help stimulate the economy of the Tribe by enhancing its business undertakings and prospects, developing and managing farming and agricultural operations, and working with other business entities to fulfill business goals.

“DWR remains committed to strengthening our relationships with Tribes and working to balance water resources management to meet the needs of Tribal communities statewide,” said Anecita Agustinez, Executive Manager of DWR’s Office of Tribal Affairs.

To learn more about DWR’s partnerships and coordination with California Native American Tribes, visit DWR's Tribal Policy webpage.

To learn more about the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe, visit

Public Affairs Office, Department of Water Resources