The Agua Caliente Women sculpture by artist Doug Hyde in Palm Springs, California. Photo: Ron

Jeff Grubbe: Agua Caliente Band focuses on protecting our groundwater

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is moving forward with the second phase of its landmark water rights lawsuit despite opposition from two local agencies. Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe is urging the tribe's opponents to come to the table to resolve the case and help address water quality and water management issues in southern California:
For decades, the Desert Water Agency and Coachella Valley Water District have wasted and polluted the Coachella Valley’s water resources. Their irresponsible management has put the future of the Valley’s aquifer in grave peril. In 2013, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians filed a federal lawsuit seeking a declaration of its federal water rights and an injunction to protect the Valley’s groundwater. Instead of working with the Tribe to find a solution, the water districts have wasted more than $2 million of ratepayer money on a lawsuit that they could have avoided.

The Tribe spent two decades trying to address these water contamination issues in a collaborative spirit and without a costly legal battle. In response, the water districts simply said “there is little to discuss.” Their refusal to come to the table and address our legitimate concerns forced Agua Caliente to assert its legal rights in an effort to stop the continued overdrafting of the aquifer and degradation of the quality of existing groundwater.

Litigation was the Tribe’s last resort, and it should not have been necessary. Under long-settled federal law, the United States’ establishment of Agua Caliente’s Reservation in 1876 included the reservation of sufficient water to assure the Reservation is a viable and prosperous home for the Agua Caliente people.

Read More on the Story:
Chairman Grubbe: Focus should be water quality (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 6/18)

Another Opinion:
DWA president: Facts important in water rights case (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 6/13)

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