June 3, 2012--Officials break ground on Navajo water project (Durango Herald)

Federal, state and tribal officials gathered Saturday in western New Mexico to break ground on the massive Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project. The 280-mile, $1 billion pipeline project will serve more than 43 Navajo communities in New Mexico and Arizona, the city of Gallup and a portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation in northern New Mexico. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was among the officials at the ceremony. He pointed to the project as one of the Obama administration’s priorities, saying it will honor commitments to tribal nations and help resolve long-standing water disputes. “It is simply unacceptable that four in 10 members of the Navajo Nation must haul their water – often over long distances,” Salazar said in a statement. “This project will be an engine for economic growth, create jobs and supply the lifeblood for communities that have been without running water for far too long.” Legislation passed by Congress in 2009 settled Navajo water rights claims in the San Juan River Basin and authorized a pipeline to serve Gallup and Navajo communities in New Mexico and eastern Arizona. The project will divert 37,764 acre-feet of water each year from the San Juan River and a reservoir, and send it through treatment plants to meet the water needs of 250,000 in American Indian communities.

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