Environment | Law | Politics

Circle of Blue: Navajo Nation moving close to water settlement

"The Navajo Nation — which spans a 70,000-square-kilometer (27,000-square-mile) stretch of mesa, sand, and canyons in parts of New Mexico, Utah, and northern Arizona — is the largest and, arguably, the driest American Indian reservation in the United States. Though the Colorado River serves as the reservation’s western border and the Little Colorado River runs almost directly through its center, water is so scarce and inaccessible that some 40 percent of the tribe’s 190,000 residents have no potable supply, and many receive their water out of the back of trucks.

Now, with the help of veteran Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, a Republican and one of Capitol Hill’s senior experts on water law, Navajo leaders and their lawyers appear to be steadily inching closer to a long-awaited legal settlement to draw millions of gallons of water for the reservation from the Little Colorado River.

The settlement would be the 27th Indian water-rights agreement to reach completion since the federal government began negotiating water rights with tribes in the 1970s, during the Carter administration. Like the others, the Little Colorado River agreement has followed years of intense mediation and legal negotiation by this western tribe, other water users, and the U.S. Department of the Interior."

Get the Story:
Water Law: Racing an Arizona Senator’s Retirement, Dry Navajo Nation Draws Closer to Securing More Water (Circle of Blue 11/17)

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