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GALLUP, NEW MEXICO Navajo President Ben Shelly joined US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and other leaders to break ground on Saturday on the historic Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, which will deliver clean running water to 200,000 members of the Navajo Nation, many for the first time.
“We are turning dirt today on this project because President Obama has put such a high priority on honoring our commitments to Indian nations, to resolving long-standing water disputes, and to jump-starting major American infrastructure projects,”
said Secretary Salazar, who recognized Senator Jeff Bingaman and Senator Tom Udall for their critical role in advancing the project in the Congress.
“It is simply unacceptable that four in ten members of the Navajo Nation must haul their water, often over long distances, from water stations. This project will be an engine for economic growth, create jobs, and supply the lifeblood for communities that have been without running water for far too long.”
“I am thankful that the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is about to begin construction,”
said President Shelly.
“This project is moving the Navajo Nation forward by bringing water to many homes. We will continue to look forward and anticipate the many benefits this project will bring to our people.”
Hundreds of workers will now begin construction on 280 miles of pipeline, two water treatment plants and a delivery system that will serve 43 Navajo chapters, the southwest portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and the city of Gallup. The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, which will provide a long term sustainable water supply to a population expected to reach approximately 250,000 people by the year 2040, will start providing water to some communities within 2-3 years and is expected to be fully built-out by 2024.
The project, which was authorized by legislation President Obama signed on March 30, 2009, is the cornerstone of a hallmark Indian water rights settlement that resolved decades of uncertainty and dispute over water rights for the Navajo Nation and other water users in New Mexico. The project is also one of 14 high-priority infrastructure initiatives being expedited by the Obama administration as a result of a Presidential Memorandum issued in August 2011 in which the President directed federal agencies to improve permitting and environmental review processes for major infrastructure project in order to bring long-term economic benefits to communities across America, while improving accountability, transparency and efficiency.
“Over the past three years, we have reached unprecedented and historic Indian water rights settlements that provide secure water supplies for communities and certainty to all water users,”
said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor.
“To see the Navajo-Gallup Project break ground is to be reminded that consensus-building and cooperation can bring about real and lasting change for communities that still do not have clean and reliable water supplies. Today is a proud day.”
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posted June 4, 2012 8:30 am edt
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