By: Ian James, The Desert Sun
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.
He said the concern is that water from the Colorado River Aqueduct – which flows into groundwater replenishment ponds in the desert next to Palm Springs – is of lesser quality than the groundwater, with higher levels of dissolved solids as well as contaminants from farm runoff and cities upstream.
“There’s a lot of solids and pollutants in it,” Grubbe said. While the effect on water quality may not be “alarming” quite yet, he said, “if nothing is done now, in the future it could be.”
The full article can be found here.