Agua Caliente Tribe Sues to Protect Palm Spring Area Water Rights

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has filed a federal lawsuit to assert its water rights in the booming Coachella Valley, which is home to Palm Springs and a number of luxurious golf courses and resorts.

The federally recognized tribe wants to stop the Desert Water Agency and the Coachella Valley Water District from using groundwater in a way that negatively impacts tribal water rights and refrain from using lesser-quality, imported water to replenish it.

Anika Davis and her brother enjoy the water of Andreas Creek in this 2011 file photo taken in Andreas Canyon, the ancestral home to the Paniktum Clan of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. / Jim Kresge, Special to The Desert Sun

The lawsuit has the potential to dramatically change how water is delivered to the homes, golf courses and businesses around the valley that would otherwise close up and be reclaimed by the desert without an abundant supply.In the lawsuit against the Desert Water Agency and the Coachella Valley Water District, the tribe asserts the agencies have infringed on the tribe’s water rights by pumping water from two basins beneath the Agua Caliente Reservation and have introduced pollution into the groundwater by bringing in lower-quality water from the Colorado River.

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