Opinion: Agua Caliente Band sparks costly water rights fight

Richard Atwater, the executive director of the Southern California Water Committee, criticizes the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians for filing water rights lawsuit:
Like other tribal water rights cases I’ve seen in my 35 years in water resources management and development, the Agua Caliente lawsuit promises to be extremely costly and contentious — and that’s not good for the public or the tribe. This litigation will create great uncertainty about future water supplies, potential increases in customer rates and the region’s recovering economy.

The Agua Caliente’s lawsuit is even more problematic because it asserts a new claim to groundwater, for which there is no established legal precedent. The tribe is seeking to take away the public’s groundwater and storage rights in the Coachella basin and prevent the water agencies from delivering water to their customers.

This would be a troubling precedent for not only the Coachella Valley but for all water interests. That is one of the many reasons the Southern California Water Committee, a nonprofit and nonpartisan partnership and one of the region’s most respected voices on water policy, is urging the tribe to drop the lawsuit.

Get the Story:
Richard Atwater: Tribal water rights suits lead to costly courtroom battles (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 8/27)

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