Navajo Nation will fight to protect its water, land and people

LAS VEGAS — On Dec. 15, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye spoke before the 2016 Colorado River Water Users conference session, Tracking the Waters: Reclamation and the Ten Tribes Partnership Tribal Water Study.

Begaye said the tribal water study will aid the Navajo nation in establishing a foundation to assess our use of the Colorado River water for future Navajo Nation water projects.

“In the future, the fight for water will be intense,” he said. “The Navajo Nation will aggressively fight to protect our land, water and its people. Securing water rights and water development projects are priorities of the Navajo Nation.”

The Tribal Water Study will be used to assess system impacts resulting from development of tribal water and help identify tribal water development challenges and opportunities. The study began in January 2014 and was conducted jointly by the Bureau of Reclamation and the Ten Tribes Partnership. 

The session provided participants a foundation of the Ten Tribes Partnership, collaborative efforts to include the member tribes in future basin water studies and the publishing date of the study. 

The Navajo Nation, which is entirely located in the upper and lower portion of the Colorado River Basin, appropriated more than $250 million over the next five years toward water infrastructure development for water projects. 

“The Office of the President and Vice-President has created a qualified team to work alongside the Navajo Nation Council to ensure our water rights are protected for future generations,” Begaye said.

Representatives from the Navajo Nation and the Bureau of Reclamation also had a meeting to discuss the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, the Southwest Navajo Rural Water Project, the Western Navajo Water Supply Project and Bureau of Reclamation programs updates. 

“Creating and completing critical infrastructure water projects is essential, not only to provide our people with water, but to improving economic development and for job creation for the Nation,” Begaye said.

The Colorado River Basin Tribes Partnership, also known as the Ten Tribes Partnership, is an organization formed in 1992 by 10 federally recognized tribes with reserved water rights in the Colorado River Basin. The member tribes are: Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Jicarilla Apache Nation, Navajo Nation, Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, Colorado River Indian Tribes, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, Quechan Indian Tribe and Cocopah Indian Tribe

The Tribal Water Study is expected to be published in early 2017. More information about the study is available at http://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/programs/crdstudy/tribalwaterstudy.html.

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