9th Circuit opinion on federal reserved right to groundwater

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Native Americans and others claiming federal reserved water rights have a right to groundwater under their lands, upending almost a century of water rights practice (see the Opinion which is also embedded below, and the 1908 case, Winters v. United States).

In November 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would not hear an appeal by California water agencies in the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’ landmark lawsuit asserting rights to groundwater beneath the Tribe’s reservation.  The case goes back to the federal district court for determination of the quantity and quality of groundwater to which the Tribe has a claim, which may prove to be an expensive legal fight.

Legal documents concerning this case are available at the Coachella Valley Water District’s website.