Navajo Nation President Nez and Vice President Lizer commend introduction of the bipartisan Navajo Utah Water Settlement Act
WASHINGTON—Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer commended the introduction of S. 1207, the Navajo Utah Water Settlement Act of 2019, by Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, which seeks Congressional approval of the settlement of the water rights claims of the Navajo Nation in the State of Utah. Sens. Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Martha McSally, R-Ariz., are cosponsors of bill.
The bill authorizes the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior to approve the settlement agreement to resolve the water rights claims of the Navajo Nation in the State of Utah.
“Many of our people still lack running water and this settlement will bring much-needed water infrastructure to build our communities and economy. I thank Senator Romney for his leadership in introducing this critical piece of legislation in the Senate. We also thank the Utah Congressional delegation, Governor Gary Herbert, and Arizona Senators Krysten Sinema and Martha McSally for their support,” President Nez said.
On January 17, Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, introduced H.R. 644, a bipartisan House version of the bill. Reps. John Curtis, R-Utah, Chris Stewart, R-Utah, and Ben McAdams, D-Utah, are cosponsors of H.R. 644. Chairman Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., of the House Natural Resources Committee, referred the bill to the Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife.
Last week, Vice President Lizer and Speaker Seth Damon (Bááháálí, Chichiltah, Manuelito, Tsé Lichíí’, Rock Springs, Tsayatoh) met with Senator Romney to discuss the importance of the bill and plans for its introduction.
“We urge Congress to move the settlement legislation as quickly as possible to the benefit of our Navajo people. We are confident the settlement will pass in the 116th Congress,” Vice President Lizer said.
The proposal will provide 81,500 acre-feet per year of surface and groundwater in the Upper Colorado River Basin. The bill will provide $210 million in funding for water infrastructure for Navajo communities in Utah, $8 million from the State of Utah, establishment of a Navajo Settlement Trust Fund, and resolves the Navajo Nation’s legal claims against the United States.
Negotiations between the Navajo Nation and the State of Utah began in 2003 with an agreement reached in 2010. The State of Utah approved the settlement in 2015, and the Navajo Nation Council approved the settlement in 2016.