Attorneys from the Wilmer Hale Law Firm in Washington, D.C. toured the entire San Luis Rey River watershed area from Lake Henshaw to Rincon and the Pauma Valley on January 25th. The Wilmer Hale Law Firm, one of the most prestigious law firms in the nation’s capitol, represents the San Luis Rey Indian Water Authority.
Three attorneys joined Chairman Bo Mazzetti, and La Jolla Chairwoman LaVonne Peck on this very important tour of the San Luis Rey River. Attorneys on the tour were Seth Waxman, the former Solicitor General of the United States; Ken Salazar, the former Secretary of the Interior, and Jon Yarowsky.
“It was critical for these attorneys to see the San Luis Rey River watershed for themselves,” said Chairman Mazzetti. “Without visiting the reservations and walking the river areas, the attorneys could have never understood the scope and size of the river, the valley and the reservations.”
Mazzetti explained that the Wilmer Hale Law Firm represents the SLRIWA on both the federal and state levels.
The SLRIWA water settlement was stalled in 2012 when the Departments of Interior and Justice reversed previous commitments to support SLRIWA’s position and rejected the proposed settlement agreement.
The tribal leaders and Wilmer Hale attorneys have determined that a legislative approach at the federal level is the only way to settle the current disagreement. The Wilmer Hale legal team has drafted legislation that is expected to be submitted by Rep. Duncan Hunter of San Diego. The proposed bill is very brief. The two specific provisions state the following: …to “execute and implement (the settlement agreement) on behalf of the United States, and “secure the entry of stipulated judgments or other final dispositions in the proceedings among these parties presently pending before the United States District Court for the Southern District of California and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.”
Chairman Mazzetti and former Interior Secretary Salazar are expected to meet with Governor Brown in Sacramento on the San Luis Rey settlement. The governor has stated on previous occasions he will support the SLR Indian Water Authority and lobby on the Authority’s behalf.