The citizens of the Navajo Nation need to be heard on water rights

Here at navajo council’s Resources & Development Committee work session with Navajo Department of Water Resources Water and the Navajo Department of justice Rights Unit.

(Excuse typos. I’m typing as fast as the presenters are talking)

RDC MEMBER LEONARD PETE
there is group of citizens meeting in Many Farms. they need to be part of this issue. their voices need to be heard. we all need to be together instead of navajo justice department, water department, water rights commission, president, council each riding a different “donkey.”
the citizens out there need to be heard. i think they are listening to us right now.

NDOJ STANLEY POLLACK
there was question over “litigation costs” and it is not factor that we are concerned about and we will spend whatever it takes to protect water rights. we have never said we need to settle because of litigation costs. what is costly is the water projects. i have said that there is an abundance of water for navajo use and navajo needs water projects. Jason Johns, navajo water dept, said proposed water projects are in the billions.
litigation is not moving forward cuz other litigants, not navajo, don’t have litigation funds. and so in the meantime, navajo should work on water projects. and that is why we bring water settlement blessed by water commission and water department.
all settlements same in one respect. lot of discussion in proposed LCR settlement was waivers of rights forever. whatever rights you think you have, we are going to quantify and that quantification will happen in litigation too.
so in terms of things being black and white and waivers, then proposed utah water settlement will be a problem.

RDC MEMBER LEONARD PETE
problem i have is water management, scope of work under water management. what is water going to be used for? recreation? economic development? what used for future generation? all water management has is a draft. are we managing run off? how are we managing river? what about ground water? we need to get an estimate cost on aqufier? how much water are we sitting on? we need to have all our water quantified!

RDC CHAIRPERSON ALTON SHEPHERD
this work session is for RDC to come up with plan of action. yes, each settlement different but comes down to what is in the interest of navajo pple. yes past water settlement okay and had to let go of certain things. and we cannot sell or lease our water per san juan water settlement. 81,500 acre feet in proposed utah settlement involves what? at some point, there is statement that four corners is not in proper place. so does that mean that mainstem is on reservation and not utah.
pete also concerned about cost. do we settlement or do we use our resources to build water lines and not justify to courts our useage.
water rights commission presented settlement that council voted down and don’t know if they are trying to push that again. so i want to hear from commission about their plans and their position on litigation, settlement, funding water projects. and are they really listening to the pple?
what happened is that we were divided and conquored. we were told we couldn’t put land into trust, water banking, water leasing. so that LCR settlement didn’t have my vote. and so right now, with drought, we’re in a good position and we can be at table. to me, what is the plan.
we need to talk about water but we also need transparency. but we really need to hear from water rights commission about their plan.
the 50,000 acre feet, we are only using 30,000 acre feet.
and water rights is a priority of RDC.

WATER RIGHTS COMMISSIONER LEO MANHEIMER
the driving force behind commission is acquisition of water for pple. and RDC member Walter Phelps accused us of pouting. I don’t think so. The effort we put into LCR was 100 presentations, planning meetings, meetings with council and committees. we were able to do quite a bit. when it didn’t pass, we moved on.
and we also getting resolutions from chapters asking to revive LCR settlement. and Pollack gave September date. the proposed LCR addresses caps on towns using underground water.
it’s all in the spirit of trying to get our pple water. as far as i know, Jason John’s program has plans.
sounds like we need to get together on water development plans and available through Jason Johns. there also are activities by some consultants, Navajo tribal Utility authority. `

WRC RAY GILMORE
all the meetings and negotiation with the states of Arizona, NM, Utah resulted in trust and a relationship.

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