Message from Agua Caliente:
On Wednesday June 7, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Jesus Bernal granted the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians a motion to lift the stay on legal proceedings regarding the Tribe’s water rights.
The ruling allows the next phase of the lawsuit between the Tribe and Desert Water Agency and Coachella Valley Water District to move forward. The next phase includes addressing the legal questions of whether there is a water quality component to the Tribe’s water right, the standard for quantifying the Tribe’s right and whether the Tribe owns the pore space underlying the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation.
“We are pleased that Judge Bernal has agreed with our position to allow the next phase of the lawsuit to move forward,” said Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld Judge Bernal’s decision that the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has a right to groundwater in the Coachella Valley – a right that the federal government set aside for the Tribe when it established the Agua Caliente Reservation in the late 1870s. We believe it’s in everyone’s best interest to allow the lawsuit to move forward while the water districts try to appeal that decision to the Supreme Court.”
According to Judge Bernal’s June 7 Order: “Continuing the stay would prejudice the Tribe and unfairly advantage the water agencies by permitting their ongoing disregard of the Tribe’s rights. The Tribe has provided ample evidence of the water agencies’ overdrafting of the aquifer and impairment of the Tribe’s crucial water resource. As such, the Court is persuaded that further delay in quantifying the Tribe’s water rights and the resulting continued degradation of such rights under these circumstances is unwarranted. The water agencies have not persuasively demonstrated how they would suffer any hardship as a result of lifting the stay, let alone hardship that could outweigh the harm to the Tribe if its Motion is denied.”
About the Tribe: The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is a federally recognized Indian Tribe located in Palm Springs, California, with 31,500 acres of reservation lands that spread across Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, and into the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains. The Tribe currently owns and operates two 18-hole championship golf courses, the Spa Resort Casino in downtown Palm Springs and the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage. For more information about the Tribe, visit www.aguacaliente-nsn.gov.