Secretarial Order 3291: Delegation of Authority to Implement the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, New Mexico

Signed by Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar, this 2009 secretarial order delegates to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation the authority to construct, operate, and maintain the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, New Mexico, which provides a municipal and industrial water supply to the eastern section of the Navajo Nation, the southwestern part of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and the City of Gallup, New Mexico.

Water rights have long been an issue in the San Juan River Basin in New Mexico. This project aims to bring clean and sustainable water supply to Navajo communities that lack running water. Drought and heat waves are likely to intensify with climate change, and access to running water is important for saving lives and supporting agriculture among other community needs.

The Project is authorized under Public Law 111-11, Title X. Prerequisites for Project construction include the execution of a water contract between the U.S. and the Navajo Nation, Project repayment contracts with Gallup and the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and a cost-sharing agreement with the State of New Mexico.

As described by the State of New Mexico Office of the State Engineer Legal Department:1  "On April 19, 2005, the Navajo Nation and the State of New Mexico executed a settlement agreement to resolve the claims of the Navajo Nation for use of waters in the San Juan River Basin in northwestern New Mexico.  On March 30, 2009, President Obama signed federal legislation authorizing and providing funding for the Navajo Nation Water Rights settlement, and a revised settlement agreement, with the United States, was executed on December 17, 2010...The Navajo settlement provides water development projects for the benefit of the Navajo Nation and non-Navajo communities in exchange for a release of the Navajo Nation’s claims to water that could displace existing non-Indian water uses in the basin. One of the primary elements of the settlement is the Northwestern New Mexico Rural Water Supply Project (also known as the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project) that includes a pipeline currently under construction by the Bureau of Reclamation." 

 

Publication Date: October 1, 2009

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