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In court battle over groundwater rights, tribe's leader demands water treatment

Ian James, The Desert Sun Aug. 5, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to decide whether it will hear an appeal from water agencies and rule in the precedent-setting legal fight over whether the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians holds rights to groundwater in the California desert. 

But Chairman Jeff Grubbe said his tribe is already looking ahead to the next phases of the case, including a federal court’s eventual decision – if the tribe prevails before the Supreme Court – on how much groundwater the tribe is entitled to.


Grubbe said in an interview with The Desert Sun that if the Agua Caliente tribe wins, one of the first priorities would be to start treating the Colorado River water that flows to the Coachella Valley and is used to replenish the aquifer. He said the tribe’s leaders are concerned about the quality of the water and the aquifer’s long-term sustainability, and would be willing to help pay for building treatment facilities to remove salts and contaminants from the imported water.


“As soon as this is all said and done, that’ll be one of the first things that the tribe’s going to work on is cleaning that water before it gets dumped in our aquifer. And that’s an expense the tribe’s willing to front for the betterment of not only my tribe but the Coachella Valley as a whole,” Grubbe said, sitting at a table next to Andreas Creek at the Indian Canyons.



Complete article: In court battle over groundwater rights, tribe's leader demands water treatment