House subcommittee takes up Navajo Nation water bill next week

Workers install a pipeline in New Mexico as part of a water rights settlement with the Navajo Nation. Photo from Bureau of Reclamation

The House Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans will hold a hearing next week on H.R.1406, the New Mexico Navajo Water Settlement Technical Corrections Act.

The bill makes minor changes to a water rights settlement between the Navajo Nation and the state of New Mexico. It increases the share of funding for cultural and archaeological resource protection by decreasing the share for fish and wildlife programs.

Congress approved the water settlement through the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. It resolves the tribe's claims to the San Juan River and authorizes the Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project to serve reservation and off-reservation communities.

A map of the Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project in New Mexico. Image from Bureau of Reclamation

The settlement, found in Section 10601 of Public Law 111-11, requires the water project to be complete by December 31, 2024. Funding, however, remains an issue.

The Bureau of Reclamation requested $89.7 million for the pipeline in its fiscal year 2016 budget request. "This project, which is required to be completed in 2024, is one of the administration’s high priority infrastructure projects and will now be on a path to meet settlement requirements over the next decade," the agency said in a press release.

The pipeline was part of an overall request for $112.5 million for tribal water rights settlements. The House Appropriations Committee cut that to $65.4 million in a budget bill approved earlier this week.

Next week's hearing on H.R.1406, introduced by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-New Mexico), takes place at 10am in Room 1324 of the Longworth House Office Building. It is one of four bills on the agenda.

Committee Notice:
Legislative Hearing on H.R. 1107, H.R. 1406, H.R. 2273, H.R. 2749 (June 25, 2015)

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