By Matt Stevens
In drought-ravaged California, the vast freshwater aquifer beneath the Coachella Valley is a rare bright spot.
The U.S. Geological Survey once tried to measure how much water it held but gave up because the supply was so plentiful.
But there is growing concern by some that local water agencies are drawing too much out of the aquifer, which supplies water for more than 260,000 people. The two water providers that control the aquifer, the Coachella Valley Water District and the Desert Water Agency, acknowledge that they have drawn down the water supply but say they replace some of it with water from the Colorado River.
That's not enough for some critics, including leaders of an Indian tribe that is now suing to wrestle water rights from the districts.
It's one of several legal disputes over water being fought across California, fueled by a drought that is making groundwater a more precious resource than ever.
"No one cares about water rights except when there's a shortage — and then people care a whole lot in a hurry," said water law expert Eric L. Garner. "If there's a shortage, you tend to get some finger-pointing. And, frankly, this drought is scary."
To read the entire story, which ran in the March 31, 2015 edition of the Los Angeles Times, click here.