East County News Service
June 24, 2010 (Santee) – California Attorney General Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown today filed a lawsuit on behalf of the California Native American Heritage Commission against Padre Dam Municipal Water District and its board of directors. The suit seeks a permanent injunction on construction of a proposed pump station, 2.5 million gallon reservoir, flow control facility and pipelines near Lake Jennings.
The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of California, San Diego central division, concludes that construction of the Padre Dam project, as approved by the District, would violate state law by causing severe or irreparable damage to a Native American sanctified cemetery or ceremonial site.
Over a dozen bone fragments from cremated Native Americans have been identified at the site, along with hundreds of other charred bone fragments that have not yet been identified. The area also has one of the largest concentration of pottery sherds of any identified site in San Diego County. The suit states that “the District’s own data recovery report acknowledges that the direct impacts from the construction of the project, as approved, will `effectively result in total destruction of the prehistoric archaeological site.’”
Padre Dam halted construction on the site only yesterday, after receiving a warning from the Attorney General prior to today’s lawsuit filing that its actions were in defiance of the state Native American Heritage Commission's request to halt construction. The site is on approximately 2.5 acres south of I-8 at Lake Jennings Park Road east of San Diego in the community of Lakeside.
The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians today commended the California Attorney General’s office for filing a lawsuit against the Padre Dam Municipal Water District to halt desecration of the Native American burial and ceremonial ground in San Diego County.
The lawsuit against the water district was filed this morning in San Diego Superior Court after the District continued construction at the site despite a June 17 ruling by the California Native American Heritage Commission declaring the entire site a sanctified Native American cemetery and ceremonial ground, calling on the District to halt further desecration and work with the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians to find an alternative location for the project.
For more information on this issue, see our previous coverage:
Padre Dam halts construction, agrees to postpone court hearing on water project: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/node/3615
CA Attorney General’s office threatens lawsuit against Padre Dam after water district defies Native American Heritage Commission, continues construction at site deemed sacred: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/node/3610
Native American Heritage Commission rules in favor of Viejas: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/node/3579
good move by AG, Padre needs to face reality
Finally, the water district comes to its senses and realizes that they can't force this project on to this site just because they say so. It took the attorney general's involvement to get them to pause and get real. Hopefully they'll use the time to really think of some better alternatives. So far their tactics and resistance have just cost rate paying customers a lot of money.