Jul 13, 2009

San Juan River Pipeline Project Unveiled

Navajo-Gallup pipeline will deliver water from river to tribes and municipality

Bureau of Reclamation officials recently unveiled a plan for the Navajo-Gallup pipeline, an $870-million project that will deliver water from the San Juan River in New Mexico to two Western tribes and the city of Gallup, N.M., Land Letter reported.

The project will provide a long-term sustainable water supply for the Navajo Nation, the Jicarilla Apache Tribe and the city, all of which are suffering from water shortages.

"Existing groundwater supplies are dwindling, have limited capacity, and are of poor quality," according to the planning report and final environmental impact statement for Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project.

The pipeline, once built, is estimated to be able to carry enough water to serve about 203,000 people in 43 Navajo communities, 1,300 people in the Jicarilla Apache Nation and approximately 47,000 people in Gallup.

According to Reclamation estimates, Gallup’s groundwater levels have fallen by about 200 ft over the past 10 years.

Funding for the project comes from the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, signed by President Obama in March.

The act also codified a larger Navajo water rights settlement, under which the tribe will receive a guaranteed water allocation and funding for water development projects. In exchange, the Navajos surrendered claims that could potentially harm other water users in the San Juan River Basin.

The project will divert 37,764 acre-ft of water per year from the San Juan River, according to the Bureau of Reclamation's environmental impact statement.