MONUMENT VALLEY—U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) today joined U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox, Utah Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson, and Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez for the signing of the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Agreement. The Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act, introduced by Senator Romney, was authorized by Congress in 2020 and then fully funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the bipartisan infrastructure bill negotiated by Romney and his colleagues. High-resolution photos are available for download here.
The Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act, which is the result of decades of negotiation, recognizes and protects the reserved water rights of the Navajo Nation and will bring clean drinking water to the Navajo people in Utah.
- The settlement recognizes a reserved water right of 81,500 acre-feet of water for current and future use by the state of Utah.
- The federal government will pay the Navajo Nation over $210 million and the state of Utah will contribute $8 million toward drinking water infrastructure on the Navajo Nation.
“Utah leaders have long-prioritized finding a solution to bring running water and wastewater facilities to the Utah portion of Navajo Nation, including ensuring its citizens have proper water infrastructure, and I picked up that torch when I came to the Senate by reintroducing the Utah Navajo Water Rights Settlement Act,” Senator Romney said. “I was proud to have helped negotiate the bipartisan infrastructure bill to make sure Utah would have a seat at the table, and make good on the longstanding promise by the federal government to the Navajo Nation in Utah. Today is possible thanks to the leadership of Governor Herbert, Congressman Bishop, Senator Hatch, State Senator David Hinkins, and the San Juan County commissioners who have been strong advocates of this project. Thank you to everyone who has carried the baton over the years in order to get this legislation across the finish line today—this is a monumental occasion.”
“Today we celebrate the opportunity to bring drinking water infrastructure to the Navajo Nation and water certainty for Utah, the fastest growing state in the country,” said Gov. Cox. “Sometimes the most important work done by government is done quietly on issues that don’t sound very exciting but which make a big difference in the lives of people. This is one of those times. I’m proud of the staff and leaders who have worked diligently and in good faith for many years to make this happen.”
“While there are no easy answers to the issue of water in the West, I am emboldened by the spirit of collaboration that made this moment possible,” Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson said. “This historic agreement will bring clean drinking water to the Navajo people in Utah, and I’m grateful for all of our partners who tackle tough issues with an eye toward solutions.”
“The people I represent in San Juan County truly appreciate the efforts of Senator Romney, who helped negotiate the funding which is the result of many years of work to provide access to water for the Navajo Nation,” said State Senator David Hinkins. “I personally have been have working to appropriate funding for water infrastructure for Utah’s Navajos since 2009, and I’m grateful to see this cross the finish line—which in large part was made possible thanks to the tireless work of Senator Romney.”
“I started working on this issue 2005 when I was first elected. And after 18 years of working with the state and federal partners Senator Romney was able to get the legislation passed to those water rights allocated. I am very happy to have been there today and see this get done. This will be a great blessing to the Navajo residents of San Juan County,” said San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act invests more than $13 billion directly in Tribal communities across the country and makes Tribal communities eligible for billions more in much-needed investments. That includes $2.5 billion to implement the Indian Water Rights Settlement Completion Fund, which will help deliver long-promised water resources to Tribes, certainty to all their non-Indian neighbors, and a solid foundation for future economic development for entire communities dependent on common water resources. Following feedback received from Tribal consultation, the Department will allocate $1.7 billion of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding this year to enacted settlements that have outstanding federal payments necessary to complete their terms.
More details on how the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will deliver for Utah—including by rebuilding its roads, mitigating drought conditions, and preparing for and responding to wildfires can be found here.