Inflation forgotten in Water rights settlement of Navajo-Gallup water projects

here at Navajo Council’s Resources & Development Committee’s work session on tribal water projects and water rights settlements. RDC finished hearing from Navajo Water Department, Bureau of Reclamation, Navajo Department of justice on Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project and Overview of agreements, schedule, priorities.

RDC MEMBER WALTER PHELPS
8621 still being relied on for extensions and some projects maybe completed. but has there been any discussion, and gallup has capacity to do municipal bonds for financial committments in long term, about municipal bonds. what are your bigest challenges, biggest obstacles. if anything we need to hear is what can we help with as council. what shud we lobby for. In 2015, $89 m. hope u get. that’s annual funding. but if mandatory settlements then funding shud be there. is there anything connected to our capacity as council. everything is real nice glossed over and like to hear that everything okay so don’t bother us. but at same ┬átime, what cud we offer or is it better that we stay out of the way?

PAT PAGE, DEPUTY CONSTRUCTION AGENCY, BUREAU OF RECLAMATION
there is storage component. but primary storage is Navajo Resovoir. Navajo Nation has couple of acres of feet in resovoir just outside Durango.

JASON JOHN, NAVAJO WATER DEPT
any settlement of water rights includes negotiations of projects and money always issue. need for additional funds and we have been in disucssin with stake holders for entire reservation. drafting project listing from settlement last year. project listing had over $100 m cud use right now for design, costruction, etc. that list included Gallup project. so there is need for any project. our need is easily $2 billion. there is need for funding. biggest challenges we have, eastern reservation, lot of that land checkerboarded and need all coordination for approval, as well as state and federal land. counselor, torreon, pueblo pintado. make sure when water comes from san juan river that it is disbursed. so consent and money big challenges. other challenge is get ntua ready to take on challenge. they need to train pple. they also are needing money. customers resistent in paying for services. why asking RDC for policy to make it easier for businesses to come to rez, schools, economic growth so when water arrives it has someplace to go.

PAT PAGE, DEPUTY CONSTRUCTION AGENCY, BUREAU OF RECLAMATION
we have $680 m of mandatory funding and $50 m from N.M. But we have $1.1 billion project and that number will escalate so need additional $600 m discretionary funds. that is what we get from congress. we need discretionary funds annually from congress to complete project by 2024. we cannot lobby congress. we also are going thru cultural sensitive area so taking more time.

JASON JOHM, NAVAJO WATER DEPT
we moved $2 m from tribal setaside from Epa cuz tribe cudn’t meet deadlines. so we lost those monies. review process tok more than 2 months. funding for water projects from indian health services has declined and that’s for water lines for homes. we have to work closely with indian health services and ntua (navajo tribal utility authority).

COUNCIL DELEGATE WALTER PHELPS
we had work session with tribal land dept and navajo housing authority about tribal land leasing law. and tribal environmental protection agency and land dept was to provide streamlined process for navajo environmental protection agency compliance. and there is cost factor too. in this situation, is there anything we can to find out what NEPA and land dept struggling with. perhaps we need report on their challenges if possibility of streamline. i know federal govt can do this. Office of navajo hopi relocation dealing with land selected can fast track environmental compliance. this cud be cost saving measure to help these water projects move forward. i appreciate being able to bring this out. and the RDC needs to look at advocacy portion to re-involve. don’t know if all committees and meeting weekly are involved in federal budgeting process and we need to sit before congressional house committees. probably president doing that but we need to be there, sitting along side him.

RDC CHAIRPERSON ALTON SHEPHERD
I’ve had some updates on maintenance of Navajo Gallup Project but i have question regarding construction. how much guaranteed? once done, how much detached from work? guarantee for how long? what happens when something ruptures or wells have problems? other is whether navajo gallup water is ground water? tribe is responsible for recharging aquifers so how will that be done? population of navajo is 300,000 and bring up from 50 gallons to 160 gallons a day for use so by 2020 we may be at 53 m and 280,000 gallon of water. and downstream users experiencing drought so what is plan by resovoir to assist drought and how does that impact 53 percent water rights of navajo nation? what is plan of navajo nation? we are building main stem and then what? there is economic development, you talked about land withdrawals and we talked about regs in place, along with environmental compliances. how do we build infrastructure and water is needed. what is priority? like to invite BOR to Navajo Indian Irrigation Project and hope navajo gallup water project doesn’t turn into NIIP.

RDC MEMBER LEONARD PETE
i wish had more time to take apart this project. i have several concerns and question to navajo is whatever amount of water allocated, do we have way to use. we have water and we allow it to run south to phoenix and we cry and complain. i’d like to see recommendations. you can collect data but what use are they if don’t put to use for benefit of future generations.

JASON JOHN, TRIBAL WATER DEPT
ground water wells will be used until water from San Juan River arrives and then wells will be set aside and used only when navajo gallup water pipelines in maintenance.

PAT PAGE, DEPUTY CONSTRUCTION AGENCY, BUREAU OF RECLAMATION
designed for minimum service life of 50 years. Hope Navajo Tribal Utility Authority has funding for maintenance. After 50 years, it is expected that pipeline corrode and will have to be replaced.

BARRY LONGWELL, CHIEF CONSTRUCTION ENGINEER, FOUR CORNERS CONSTRUCTION OFFICE, BUREAU OF RECLAMATION
even with extreme droughts in past, the tribe has received its water allocation. major user in San Juan Basin is Navajo Agricultural Products Industry.

RDC CHAIRPERSON ALTON SHEPHERD
under Bureau of indian affairs trustee and Bureau of reclamation also part of federal government. heard federal bill going through indian country and includes northwest NM regarding irrigation projects that are included in water rights settlements.

RDC MEMBER/DELEGATE WALTER PHELPS
perhaps this question for cultural and archeaological services, one person assigned to the navajo gallup project and that person no longer there. so does the manpower need to be increased? budget season so do we need to increase out staff or does federal funding from navajo-san juan river water rights settlement for navajo gallup water project include that cost? federal government gets very sneaky about those types of costs.

RDC MEMBER/DELEGATE LEONARD PETE
once water rights settlement enter into, that’s it for funding and so i’m concerned about capturing all that water that is currently running off the reservation, which is bone dry right now. we need to be wise whenever we negotiate our water rights. we can’t keep operating the same we have been doing in the past.

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