Palm Springs, California, in the homelands of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Photo: Chris Goldberg

Agua Caliente Band water case draws attention in Supreme Court appeal

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians secured a huge victory in its water rights case earlier this year but the nation's highest court could overturn the ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering an appeal of a decision that confirmed the tribe's right to groundwater for its reservation in southern California. There's no guarantee that the justices will hear the case but Indian Country, state governments and other groups are paying close attention, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“There are very few water lawyers in the West who are not aware of this case,” law professor Dan Tarlock told the paper.

The Desert Water Agency and the Coachella Valley Water District each filed petitions with the Supreme Court on July 7. A response from the tribe is due by September 6, according to Docket No. 17-40 and Docket No. 17-42.

During the Obama administration, the Department of Justice intervened in the case in support of the tribe. The Trump administration would presumably need to respond to the petition as well.

The case is Coachella Valley Water District v. Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and Desert Water Agency v. Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

Read More on the Story:
In Palm Springs, a Fight Over Who Controls the Drinking Water (The Wall Street Journal 8/1)

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

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