A water rights settlement between the Navajo Nation, state of Utah and the federal government has become law.
This is part of the COVID-19 and government-funding legislation signed by President Trump, reported KNAU Arizona Public Radio.
The Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act was among several bills included in the $2.3 trillion package.
According to Utah Senator Mitt Romney, The Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act:
- Settles all current and future claims by the Navajo Nation for water rights within Utah, thus precluding costly future litigation for all parties;
- Provides the Navajo Nation with the right to deplete 81,500 acre-feet of water per year from Utah’s Colorado River Basin apportionment;
- Authorizes $210 million in funding for water infrastructure on Utah portion of Navajo Nation to access the water, which will help provide clean drinking water; and
- Requires the State of Utah to contribute $8 million in funding towards the settlement, which has been approved.
The settlement act ends decades of negotiations between tribal, federal and state officials. It ultimately settles all current and future water claims made by the Navajo Nation in Utah, reported KNAU Arizona Public Radio.
The bill affirms the tribe’s right to more than 26.5 billion gallons of water a year from Utah’s Colorado River Basin apportionment. $220 million in water infrastructure on the portion of the reservation located in the state is invested as well.
According to Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, the bill’s passage is historic. The passage of the bill will allow increased access to drinking water for many Navajo families.
More than 40% of Navajo Nation households in Utah lack running water or adequate sanitation, reported President Nez’s office.