Navajo sign water rights settlement with Utah and feds

May 27, 2022, 3:22 AM | Updated: 3:31 pm
Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox, left, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, middle, and Jonathan Ne...

Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox, left, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, middle, and Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation gather with local officials as they sign the agreement for the Navajo federal reserved water rights settlement Friday, May 27, 2022 in Monument Valley, Utah. (Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

(Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

MONUMENT VALLEY, Utah (AP) — Federal officials signed an agreement with leaders of the Navajo Nation on Friday that provides funding for clean drinking water infrastructure for reservation residents and resolves questions about longstanding Navajo claims to water rights in the drought-stricken U.S. West.

The signing formalizes the Utah Navajo Water Rights Settlement, which became law in 2020 as part of President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill. As part of the agreement, the federal government will pay the Navajo Nation $210 million for drinking water infrastructure in San Juan County — the part of the 27,00-square-mile (71,000-square kilometer) reservation that lies in Utah.

Many Navajo homes lack running water. Residents often fill containers at public taps or rely on water deliveries from volunteer organizations.

“As we seek to strengthen Indigenous communities and support tribal self-governance, today’s action and all of these investments will help provide the Navajo Nation with autonomy and flexibility to design and build appropriate water projects that will address current and future water needs,” U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said at a signing ceremony on the Navajo Nation.

Utah, which was also party to the agreement, will pay the Navajo $8 million as part of the settlement.

“We had two real problems in our state. One was the Navajo Nation had claims to the Colorado (River) that would impair Utah’s water rights,” U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney told The Salt Lake Tribune. “The other concern we had was about half the Navajo Nation residents (in Utah) didn’t have running water.”

The settlement also quantifies the Navajo Nation’s water rights, quelling Utah’s anxieties about its long-standing claims to a share of water, including from the Colorado River.

A 1908 court decision said tribes had rights to as much water as was needed to establish permanent homelands. Though they possess senior rights, the Navajo were left out when seven western states divided up shares as part of the Colorado River Compact a century ago.

The subsequent uncertainty and potential legal battles have emerged as an urgent issue as the region reckons with a hotter, drier future with less Colorado River water to be shared.

The settlement recognizes the Navajo’s right to 81,500 acre-feet of Utah water and allows them to draw the water from aquifers, rivers or Lake Powell, if they choose. The agreement also allows the Navajo to lease unused water to entities off the reservation and guarantees they won’t lose water rights not put to use.

It’s one of 16 tribal water rights settlements that the Biden administration is devoting $1.7 billion to fund from the recently enacted federal infrastructure bill.

“The hard work, however, must continue until all homes across the Navajo Nation have clean water running in faucets for all Navajo families,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez told the newspaper.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

The Amazon logo is pictured on Sept. 6, 2012, in Santa Monica, Calif. Amazon filed a lawsuit on Mon...
Haleluya Hadero, Associated Press

Amazon sues Washington’s labor agency over alleged hazards

Amazon has sued Washington state’s labor agency following disputes with regulators over citations and fines imposed on the company for worker safety issues.
19 hours ago
FILE - Baker Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., manages his shop, Jun...
Associated Press

Colorado baker fighting ruling over gender transition cake

DENVER (AP) — The Colorado baker who won a partial Supreme Court victory after refusing on religious grounds to make a gay couple’s wedding cake a decade ago is challenging a separate ruling he violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by refusing to make a cake celebrating a gender transition. A lawyer for Jack Phillips on […]
19 hours ago
Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, at podium stands by a photo on display of TV producer ...
Associated Press

‘Scrubs’ producer Eric Weinberg charged with sex assaults

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Eric Weinberg, an executive producer and writer for the hit TV show “Scrubs” and many others, has been charged with sexually assaulting five women that he lured to photo shoots and there could be many more victims, Los Angeles County prosecutors announced Wednesday. Weinberg, 62, was arrested Tuesday, nearly a week […]
19 hours ago
The United Nations Security Council meets to discuss a ballistic missile test by North Korea, Wedne...
Associated Press

UN Security Council splits, again, over North Korea missiles

Debate over how to handle a North Korean ballistic missile launch over Japanese territory split an already deeply fractured U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, with Russia and China insisting that U.S.-led military exercises in the region had provoked North Korea into acting. Wednesday’s session ended with no agreement on next steps, despite warnings from the […]
19 hours ago
Foreign Minister of Mexico Marcelo Ebrard addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General ...
Associated Press

Mexico pledges to bring 2nd lawsuit against gun dealers

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican government plans to bring another lawsuit against U.S. companies it claims are responsible for the flow of illegal weapons into Mexico, Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Wednesday. Ebrard suggested the new lawsuit could target gun shops or dealers in U.S. border states like Arizona who sell guns to […]
19 hours ago
Foreign Minister of Mexico Marcelo Ebrard addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General ...
Associated Press

Mexico pledges to bring 2nd lawsuit against gun dealers

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican government plans to bring another lawsuit against U.S. companies it claims are responsible for the flow of illegal weapons into Mexico, Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Wednesday. Ebrard suggested the new lawsuit could target gun shops or dealers in U.S. border states like Arizona who sell guns to […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Navajo sign water rights settlement with Utah and feds