U.S. Senate Committee Passes Navajo-Utah Water Settlement
A Senate committee passed legislation Wednesday that gives the Navajo the right to take a portion of Utah's Colorado River allotment.
If the bill is approved, the Navajo would be able to take 81,500 acre-feet of water per year from the Colorado River. Utah is among seven states in the region that have divvied up water from the Colorado River in a compact.
The bill also would provide $210 million in federal funds and $8 million in Utah state funding to build pipelines to people's homes on the Navajo Nation. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who introduced the legislation, spoke at a Senate committee hearing.
"This funding is to provide for water to homes of Native Americans," Romney said. "It also frees up water for the state of Utah so we're able to live within the agreements we've made with other states in the region and at the same time prevent unnecessary litigation."
Disputes over Native American water rights date as far back as the early 19th century. The negotiations for this settlement began in 2003. Navajo leaders support the deal.