Navajo president backs water rights settlement

Window Rock, Arizona (AP) June 2012

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly has declared his support for a controversial water rights settlement.

Under the settlement, the Navajo and Hopi tribes would waive further claims to water from the Little Colorado River system in exchange for groundwater delivery projects paid for by the federal government.

The tribes and about 30 other entities must sign off on the settlement before legislation sponsored by Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl moves forward in Congress.

Shelly said that the benefits of the settlement far outweigh the risks of continued litigation.

But critics disagree, saying the tribes deserve more water and should fight for it in court.

Navajo lawmakers are expected to vote soon on the settlement, and Shelly is urging them to approve it.