Letter: NGS replacement lease could compromise water; health of future generations

The Navajo Generating Station uses coal to produce electricity. Because of recently declining prices of natural gas, the station is facing an uncertain future. Adobe stock

The Navajo Generating Station uses coal to produce electricity. Because of recently declining prices of natural gas, the station is facing an uncertain future. Adobe stock

To the editor:

In comparing the 1969 NGS Lease Agreement to today’s proposed Replacement Lease Agreement — negotiated between the NGS Negotiating Team and Salt River Project (SRP), and now pending before the Navajo Nation Council for their consideration Monday (June 26) — appears to compromise the water and health of our future generations.

Why I feel this way:

The 1969 Agreement, Section 15 (a) clearly states, “This Agreement shall not be construed in any manner as a waiver by the Tribe of any present or prospective water rights of the tribe.” This refers to the 34,100 AFY dedicated to the operation of NGS out of the Upper Basin of the Colorado River, which has a total of 50,000 AF. The Navajo Nation is the only community in the Upper Basin as designated years ago by the state of Arizona. The above statement implies that the Navajo Nation has the rights to all 50,000 AF, and it was never waived. All parties who signed in 1969 agreed, including the Department of Interior, SRP and its partners.

In today’s proposed Replacement Lease Agreement, in Section 14, Water Use: 1,500 AFY shall be available for NGS and shall not be reduced or diminished. SRP will hold certificates of water rights (not the Navajo Nation) on its behalf, and NGS for the use of a portion of 50,000 AFY. SRP will support the Navajo Nation efforts to acquire the use of a portion of the 50,000 AF once the NGS allocation is no longer necessary and the certificates granted to SRP and NGS is terminated. Under the proposed agreement, the Navajo Nation will get only 950 AFY, but for the community of LeChee only.

Percy Deal,

Diné CARE (Citizens against ruining our environment) is a nonprofit all Navajo organization which strives to educate and advocate for traditional teachings

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