In mailboxes across the Coachella Valley, a campaign-style mailer appeared this week prominently displaying The Desert Sun’s recent series about long-term declines in the aquifer. Make no mistake: this mailer doesn’t come from the newspaper.
The flier, with a red border and the blaring headline “News Alert,” features the front page of the newspaper’s Sept. 8 special section for the report “Aquifer at Risk.” But the mailer comes from the Coachella Clean Water Coalition and was paid for by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, which is suing the Coachella Valley Water District and the Desert Water Agency over their management of the valley’s water supply. The inside of the mailer asserts: “Mismanagement of the Valley Aquifer Impacts Everyone.”
While the reasons behind the timing aren’t entirely clear, the tribe appears to be launching a stronger push to make its case in the court of public opinion.
Agua Caliente Tribal Chairman Jeff Grubbe said when asked about the timing that “we just want to get the facts out there.”
“The DWA and CVWD have been using ratepayers’ money to get their biased perspective across with mailed letters to the community. We have the right to correct the record,” Grubbe said in an emailed response.
“These mail pieces are an effort by the Tribe to ensure residents have all the facts and encourage them to read the facts for themselves,” he said.
The flier calls for “better management of the aquifer, stewardship of precious water supplies, greater urgency to fix the water crisis.” It also includes a card encouraging people to mail it back with their name, email and phone contact.
The two water agencies, for their part, have sent customers a letter and a bill insert explaining their stances on the lawsuit. Both water agencies have also posted information about the lawsuit and their responses on their websites, and have urged people to join them in opposing the lawsuit.
The debate, both in federal court and in political circles in the Coachella Valley, looks likely to keep on going.
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