Navajo lawmakers to take up water rights pact

Window Rock, Arizona (AP) October 2010

A bill to settle the Navajo Nation’s rights to water in the lower Colorado River basin is set to go before tribal lawmakers again next month.

Lawmakers tabled the bill last month to allow for public hearings. They’ll meet to debate it among themselves before convening for a Nov. 4 special session.

The settlement would give the tribe 31,000 acre-feet of water a year from the Colorado River, the unappropriated surface flows from the Little Colorado River and nearly unlimited access to two aquifers beneath the reservation.

Critics say the proposed settlement falls short of what Navajos deserve.

The proposal is a result of more than a decade of negotiation among the Navajo and Hopi tribes, the state and its major water providers, cities, ranches and others.