Posted on: March 20, 2015

Water rights lawsuit will go to trial

Recharge Facility

A federal judge ruled today that a lawsuit by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians against the Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) and Desert Water Agency (DWA) will go to trial to determine if the Tribe has a reserved right to groundwater.

The court ruled that the Tribe does not have an aboriginal right to the groundwater in the Coachella Valley, but left for a trial to determine whether the Tribe has reserved rights, in the valley’s groundwater basin, and how that right may be quantified.

“We are disappointed that we didn’t win on both issues,” said CVWD President John Powell Jr. “We will continue to argue that the water beneath the Coachella Valley belongs to everyone, including the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, not just special interests such as the Tribe.”

CVWD was founded in 1918 and is the largest water agency in the Coachella Valley. Nearly 100 wells, 60 reservoirs and almost 2,000 miles of pipeline are needed to deliver in excess of 100,000 acre-feet to a population of more than 300,000 residents and several thousand commercial customers. In addition, CVWD and DWA cooperate in the operation and maintenance of three groundwater replenishment facilities, and utilize imported Colorado River water to reduce overdraft of the aquifer.

CVWD has not allowed the litigation, which was filed in 2013, to interfere with its role as manager of the region’s groundwater, and there have not been and will not be any interruptions in the delivery of water and related services to its customers.

Additional information about the lawsuit is available at

CVWD is a public agency governed by a five-member board of directors. The district provides domestic and irrigation water, agricultural drainage, wastewater treatment and reclamation services, regional storm water protection, groundwater management and water conservation. It serves approximately 108,000 residential and business customers across 1,000 square miles, located primarily in Riverside County, but also in portions of Imperial and San Diego counties.

News Release Contacts
Heather Engel,, Ext. 2353
Diane Carmony,, Ext. 2315

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