Navajo Water Supply Project: Creating Jobs and Opportunity

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

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Construction continues on the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project. This project is critical for Gallup to continue supplying residents and businesses with water into the future, in addition to being immediately necessary for the 40 percent of Navajo households who currently haul water to meet daily needs (Bureau of Reclamation, 2019).

A core piece of the project would convey a reliable M&I water supply to the eastern section of the Navajo Nation and the city of Gallup via diversions from the San Juan River in northern New Mexico. The Navajo Nation and the city of Gallup are part of the project steering committee that assisted in preparing the final environmental impact statement so that the project can move forward (Bureau of Reclamation, 2019).

The Project 

The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is a major infrastructure initiative (Bureau of Reclamation, 2019).  Once constructed, it will convey a reliable municipal and industrial water supply from the San Juan River to the eastern section of the Navajo Nation and the city of Gallup, New Mexico via about 280 miles of pipeline, several pumping plants, and two water treatment plants.

The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is designed to provide a long-term sustainable water supply to meet the future population needs of approximately 250,000 people in these communities by the year 2040 through the annual delivery of 37,764 acre-feet of water from the San Juan Basin. The project’s eastern branch will divert approximately 4,645 acre-feet of water annually with no return flow to the San Juan River. The project’s western branch will divert the remaining 33,119 acre-feet of water with an anticipated average annual return flow of 1,871 acre-feet (Bureau of Reclamation, 2019).

Project Facts

The project was authorized for construction by the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-11) on March 30, 2009 as a major component of the Navajo Nation San Juan River Basin Water Rights Settlement in New Mexico.

The legislation requires the completion of all project feature construction no later than December 31, 2024.

The start of project construction is dependent on completion of various permitting, land acquisition, and contract activities and is scheduled to begin in 2012.

As one of the 14 infrastructure projects identified by the Obama Administration to be expedited through the permitting and environmental review process, Reclamation is working with federal, non-federal, and Tribal entities to facilitate construction activities as soon as possible.

Once project construction begins, it is anticipated that between 400-450 jobs will be created. As the project reaches the peak of construction activities, it is anticipated that a total of 600-650 jobs will have been created.

The overall project schedule is determined by the Project Construction Committee consisting of representatives from Reclamation, city of Gallup, Navajo Nation, Jicarilla Apache Nation, and state of New Mexico. The project schedule is driven by funding provided through Congress and state of New Mexico.

In addition to Reclamation, the city of Gallup, Navajo Nation, and Indian Health Service will simultaneously perform design and construction tasks for various project reaches under their own authorities in accordance with financial assistance agreements with Reclamation.

Project Status

In September, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior announced the award of an $83.7-million contract for the project. “This award continues our important work to develop and modernize water infrastructure, honor the Department’s federal Indian trust responsibility and strengthen partnerships with tribal and local communities. Progress on this project is exciting; this award means most of the main line on the San Juan Lateral is either completed or under construction,” said Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt (U.S. Department of the Interior, 2019).

Work under this contract will begin in January 2020 and is expected to last for approximately 2 years. Construction on this stretch of the pipeline will be visible from U.S. Highway 491.

Community Impact 

“The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project will be transformative for communities in the Navajo Nation, the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and Gallup. Over the last decade, I’ve been proud to fight for the major federal investments necessary to finally deliver long-term clean drinking water supplies to thousands of families throughout northwestern New Mexico,” said Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM). “The construction of this major project is also creating jobs and promoting economic development throughout the region. I will continue working to uphold the federal commitments in the historic Navajo Nation Water Rights Settlement Agreement and ensure that our communities in Indian Country have the resources they need to thrive” (U.S. Department of the Interior, 2019)

References 

Bureau of Reclamation. (2019, October 10). Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project. Retrieved from Bureau of Reclamation Managing Water in the West: https://www.usbr.gov/projects/index.php?id=580

Bureau of Reclamation. (2019, August 12). Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project Planning Report and Final Environmental Impact Statement . Retrieved from Bureau of Reclamation Managing Water in the West: 

https://www.usbr.gov/uc/envdocs/eis/navgallup/FEIS/index.html

U.S. Department of the Interior. (2019, September 12). Secretary Bernhardt Announces $83.7 Million Construction Award to Continue Work on Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project. Retrieved from U.S. Department of the Interior: https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/secretary-bernhardt-announces-837-million-construction-award-continue-work-navajo

 

 

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