Indian water settlements hinge on state funding

By Susan Montoya Bryan
Albuquerque, New Mexico (AP) March 2011

New Mexico’s top water officials say they’re concerned the state could run out of time and miss a federal deadline for paying its share to implement American Indian water rights settlements that were decades in the making.

The state engineer’s office, lawmakers and others are scrambling during the current legislative session to come up with at least a portion of the $130 million that will ultimately be needed to help the federal government and tribes implement the water agreements.

It was unprecedented last fall when Congress approved four settlements to deliver clean drinking water to tribes in New Mexico, Arizona and Montana.

Montana has set aside its share required as part of a settlement with the Crow tribe, but New Mexico has banked only about $10 million for its settlements.