The Navy’s claim that they have Federal Reserve Water Rights should be challenged.

We will and we’ll ask the IWVGA and U.S. Navy to prove it: Does the U.S. Navy have any water rights on it’s 1.1 million acre lease of public land?

Here’s the only basis for the claim that the Navy makes that it has any water rights, and nobody, including the IWVGA and Supervisor Mick Gleason is challenging this assertion. Why not? You’ll see…

The U.S. Navy, in a letter dated 02/21/19 signed by Capt. Paul M. Dale to the Groundwater Authority states that they appreciate that IWVGA recognizes the Navy’s “water rights” (we have underlined the pertinent phrases and strikethrough meaningless references)

“The Navy appreciates that IWVGWA recognizes the unique position of NAWSCL’s Federal Reserve Water Rights (FRWR) dating back in time to when the base was established in 1943. The SGMA statute itself recognizes that FRWRs shall be respected in full, and in the case of any conflict, federal law will prevail. CA Water Code Section 10720.3(d). IWVGWA has also recognized the fact that there is no waiver of sovereign immunity subjecting Navy to GW regulation, pumping limitations, or fee assessment. Despite these unique federal legal limitations, NAWSCL intends to be a good neighbor and work cooperatively with the IWVGWA.”

This is a recap of the history of Federal Reserve Water Rights from none other than the U.S. Department of Justice:

The doctrine of federal reserved water rights generally traces its origins to the seminal decision of Winters v. United States, 207 U.S. 564 (1908).  There, the United States Supreme Court ruled, when the United States sets aside an Indian reservation, it impliedly reserves sufficient water to fulfill the purposes of the reservation, with the priority date established as of the date of the reservation. 

The Navy’s assertion that they are protected from SGMA and have Federal Reserve Water Rights is dubious at best, and absolute BS, but you can decide for yourself and you don’t need an attorney.

The only case that allowed for a military base to assert these rights comes from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Nellis AFB is the first and only example of a case that allowed for the doctrine of Federal Reserve Water Rights to be used giving Nellis AFB exemptions from the State of Nevada’s water laws. Nellis AFB owns their land.

The U.S. Navy holds 1.1 million acres of BLM public land, Status Withdrawn by the Navy. The Navy is for all intents renting the land from you and their lease runs out in 18 years. (City of Ridgecrest, are you listening?). The Navy’s reservation isn’t the same as a sovereign Indian Reservation in any case.

The Navy doesn’t tell you that FRWR is a doctrine, not a law. What is a doctrine? From Webster’s dictionary:

1a: a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief

b: a statement of fundamental government policy especially in international relations

c: a principle of law established through past decisions

d: a military principle or set of strategies

e: something that is taught

In 2014, Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R) introduced legislation (with the help and support of Supervisor Mick Gleason) to give the Navy permanent ownership of 1.1 million acres of BLM public land.

Apr 29, 2014 Press Release, Congressman McCarthy and Supervisor Gleason Testify

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulations held a hearing on Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s legislation H.R. 4458, the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake Security Enhancement Act that would permanently withdraw and reserve public land to support the operations of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California.

The Navy attempted to grab 1.1 million acres of land in the high Mojave Desert, including the Coso Petroglyphs, the largest concentration of “rock art” in the Northern Hemisphere. Congressman McCarthy’s bill failed to pass.

Of course, the IWVGA isn’t going to challenge the Navy’s assertions. The U.S. Navy and the IWVGA are working in concert to deceive you by claiming the Navy is a “good neighbor”. They are anything but a good neighbor. Does a good neighbor drain your groundwater basin over a period of 75 years and then tell you they don’t have any intention of paying for the damages?