Water Rights Lawsuit
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians (Agua Caliente) filed a lawsuit against Desert Water Agency (DWA) and Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) in May 2013, claiming rights, above all other water users, to the Coachella Valley region’s groundwater – the water used to supply drinking water to the Coachella Valley community. Agua Caliente’s lawsuit aims to take rights to water away from local residents – potentially leaving families and businesses paying more for water.
Coachella Valley groundwater has always been available for supply to the public, which includes the Agua Caliente. It is a shared resource, managed for the benefit of all. DWA and CVWD firmly believe that everyone, including the Agua Caliente, should have access to a clean, affordable and reliable water supply. The agencies continue to fight the lawsuit to protect the public’s water rights and ensure customers’ access to an affordable and reliable water supply.
In April 2019, United States District Court Judge Jesus Bernal ruled that the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has no legal standing, or grounds to sue, on the key issues of water quality and quantification. The United States filed a motion requesting the judge reconsider. On August 14, the judge denied the Motion for Reconsideration.
The issue of pore space (the area beneath the ground where water is stored) is still working its way through the process.
Current Status of the Coachella Valley Groundwater Basin:
DWA and CVWD have been responsible stewards, leading the way in defining what a sustainable groundwater basin should look like. Years ago, DWA and CVWD engineered a cutting-edge approach to groundwater management that has become a model for programs nationwide by placing our region’s groundwater basin on a long-term path to sustainability.
Actively replenishing the basin with water imported from the Colorado River has increased groundwater elevation. It would be irresponsible not to utilize this resource for groundwater replenishment. Other water management experts agree – Colorado River water serves as a source of drinking water for 33 million people and is used by water agencies throughout the state and in other states for groundwater replenishment.
The water DWA provides meets all state and federal water quality standards.