Bill in Congress would resolve large Utah water rights claim

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Federal legislation has been introduced to settle one of the largest outstanding water rights claims in Utah.

The settlement would give the Navajo Nation 81,500 acre-feet annually of Utah’s unused share of water from the upper Colorado River basin.

Utah and the Navajo Nation reached the agreement in 2016, but it needs congressional approval.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney introduced the bill earlier this month. Arizona’s two U.S. senators signed on as co-sponsors.

The bill would provide the Navajo Nation with $210 million for water infrastructure projects, including wells, pipelines and water treatment plants. Utah agreed to chip in $8 million.

The Navajo Nation originally claimed twice as much water as the settlement includes. Tribes often settle claims in exchange for funding to put the water to use.

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