Agua Caliente Band sees challenge to landmark water rights ruling

Palm Canyon on the Agua Caliente Reservation in California. Photo: Susannah

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians continues to see opposition from water districts in southern California.

The tribe won a major victory earlier this month when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed its rights to groundwater on the reservation. But the Desert Water Agency and the Coachella Valley Water District are going to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the "unprecedented" decision.

“Granting control of the groundwater to the tribe could seriously affect the future of this valley,” John Powell, the president of the Coachella Valley Water District board, said in a press release on Wednesday. “We represent the public and have been working to protect their supply for today and tomorrow. It only makes sense to pursue an appeal on behalf of all the water users in the Coachella Valley.”

The Supreme Court only accepts a small percentage of the cases presented for appeal. And it hasn't heard a tribal water rights case in nearly two decades.

Read More on the Story:
Desert water agencies will appeal to Supreme Court in tribe’s landmark groundwater case (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 3/29)
Local water agencies request Supreme Court intervention over water dispute with Tribe (City News Service 3/29)

9th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District (March 7, 2017)

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