A project to provide clean drinking water to thousands of people living on tribal lands is underway.
Tribal, state and federal officials signed a Memorandum of Understanding which clarifies regulatory roles and responsibilities such as those for drinking water regulations for the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project.
The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is a major infrastructure project that will convey a reliable municipal and industrial water supply from the San Juan River to the eastern section of the Navajo Nation, southwestern portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and the city of Gallup, New Mexico, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.
"Drinking water jurisdiction across northwest New Mexico is incredibly complex, involving a mix of federal, state, tribal and private entities,” stated a joint press release from several agencies, reported The Farmington Daily Times. “The MOU clarifies government oversight and regulatory roles and responsibilities of the parties involved."
This will be achieved with approximately 280 miles of pipeline, several pumping plants, and two water treatment plants. Once project construction begins, it is expected that between 400 to 450 jobs will be created and when the peak of construction activities occur 600 to 650 jobs will have been created, reported the Bureau of Reclamation.
The 15-page document was signed in March and April by officials.
These areas currently rely on a rapidly depleting groundwater supply, which is poor quality and unable to meet the needs of more than 43 Navajo chapters, the city of Gallup, and the Teepee Junction area of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, added the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
According to the Bureau of Reclamation, groundwater levels for the city of Gallup have dropped approximately 200 feet over the past 10 years and over 40% of Navajo Nation households rely on hauling water to meet their daily needs.