(a) FindingsThe Congress finds the following:
In 1876, the Torres-Martinez Indian Reservation was created, reserving a single, 640-acre section of land in the Coachella Valley, California, north of the Salton Sink. The Reservation was expanded in 1891 by Executive order, pursuant to the Mission Indian Relief Act of 1891, adding about 12,000 acres to the original 640-acre reservation.
Between 1905 and 1907, flood waters of the Colorado River filled the Salton Sink, creating the Salton Sea, inundating approximately 2,000 acres of the 1891 reservation lands.
In 1909, an additional 12,000 acres of land, 9,000 of which were then submerged under the Salton Sea, were added to the reservation under a Secretarial Order issued pursuant to a 1907 amendment of the Mission Indian Relief Act. Due to receding water levels in the Salton Sea through the process of evaporation, at the time of the 1909 enlargement of the reservation, there were some expectations that the Salton Sea would recede within a period of 25 years.
Through the present day, the majority of the lands added to the reservation in 1909 remain inundated due in part to the flowage of natural runoff and drainage water from the irrigation systems of the Imperial, Coachella, and Mexicali Valleys into the Salton Sea.
In addition to those lands that are inundated, there are also tribal and individual Indian lands located on the perimeter of the Salton Sea that are not currently irrigable due to lack of proper drainage.
In 1982, the United States brought an action in trespass entitled “United States of America, in its own right and on behalf of Torres-Martinez Band of Mission Indians and the Allottees therein v. the Imperial Irrigation District and Coachella Valley Water District”, Case No. 82–1790 K (M) (hereafter in this section referred to as the “U.S. Suit”) on behalf of the Torres-Martinez Indian Tribe and affected Indian allottees against the two water districts seeking damages related to the inundation of tribal- and allottee-owned lands and injunctive relief to prevent future discharge of water on such lands.
On August 20, 1992, the Federal District Court for the Southern District of California entered a judgment in the U.S. Suit requiring the Coachella Valley Water District to pay $212,908.41 in past and future damages and the Imperial Irrigation District to pay $2,795,694.33 in past and future damages in lieu of the United States request for a permanent injunction against continued flooding of the submerged lands.
The United States, the Coachella Valley Water District, and the Imperial Irrigation District have filed notices of appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from the district court’s judgment in the U.S. Suit (Nos. 93–55389, 93–55398, and 93–55402), and the Tribe has filed a notice of appeal from the district court’s denial of its motion to intervene as a matter of right (No. 92–55129).
The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has stayed further action on the appeals pending the outcome of settlement negotiations.
In 1991, the Tribe brought its own lawsuit, Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, et al., v. Imperial Irrigation District, et al., Case No. 91–1670 J (LSP) (hereafter in this section referred to as the “Indian Suit”) in the United States District Court, Southern District of California, against the two water districts, and amended the complaint to include as a plaintiff, Mary Resvaloso, in her own right, and as class representative of all other affected Indian allotment owners.
The Indian Suit has been stayed by the district court to facilitate settlement negotiations.