Romney, McSally, Sinema Introduce Legislation to Settle Water Rights for Navajo Nation in Utah

WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) introduced the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act of 2019, legislation that would settle a decades-long negotiation among the Navajo Nation, federal government and the State of Utah over water rights for Utah Navajos. A summary of the legislation is available here.
navajo waters

“For many years there has been a great deal of conflict about who has the right to water that flows through Utah and the Navajo Nation as part of Utah,” Senator Romney said. “This conflict could have been resolved through a lengthy court process that would have cost millions of dollars and accomplished very little. Instead, we have come together to introduce legislation that will resolve this conflict by providing additional water for the Navajo Nation and for the people of Utah in a way that is good for everybody. At the same time it will provide needed infrastructure to the Navajo Nation for nearly half of the 5,000 citizens there that don’t have running water. I’m proud to be joined by Senators McSally and Sinema, and I hope the Senate will take this up and pass it without delay so that we can keep the longstanding promise by the federal government to the Navajo Nation in Utah.”

“This is a tremendous bipartisan accomplishment to bring much-needed certainty to the Navajo Nation’s water supply,” Senator McSally said. “I look forward to working to pass this into law to expand economic opportunity and uphold the government’s commitment to the Navajo.”

“The Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act settles a decades-long negotiation and provides certainty to the Navajo Nation’s water security. I’ll continue working across the aisle to ensure the federal government makes good on its promises to tribal nations,” said Senator Sinema.

“We want to say thank you to Senator Mitt Romney for introducing S.1207, the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act,”
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said. “Once approved, this will bring much needed water infrastructure into the communities of the Navajo Nation, within the state of Utah. We also want to say thank you to the Representatives on the House side that are introducing the House version. We thank you all for your advocacy for the Navajo Nation as well as the entire state of Utah. We appreciate the work that you all do in Washington, D.C., we look forward to a continued great partnership with the lawmakers, our congressional delegation there, and we wish you well, and God bless you, and God bless our great Navajo Nation.”

“I want to thank Senator Romney again for championing this for us. It has been seventeen years in the works, and we are so excited—we believe that this can happen in the 116th Congress,” Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer said. “We have a lot of our citizens in Southeastern Utah on the Navajo Reservation that are without water, and they are so close to the San Juan River, they’re so close to all the water in the Colorado Lower Basin, and yet we are without running water and the infrastructure. Water is very important, it’s one of society’s basic needs, and now in 2019 some of our people are getting water for the first time. It’s a great thing when you put the needs of others first and everybody comes together, and many lives are going to be blessed because of it.”

“We thank Senator Romney for his great leadership for the State of Utah,” Speaker of the Navajo Nation Seth Damon said. “Along the San Juan River, from New Mexico to Aneth community and all the way to Navajo Mountain, there’s 2,400 families who will be connected to running water. Up to 11,000 people will be impacted by this on a daily basis. These individuals won’t have to haul water every day. Through the leadership of Senator Romney and Representative Bishop, the federal government is going to be stepping up and beginning to fulfill its commitments to the Navajo Nation.”

The Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act of 2019 would:

  • Settle all current and future claims by the Navajo Nation for water rights within Utah, thus precluding costly future litigation for all parties;
  • Provide the Navajo Nation with the right to deplete 81,500 acre-feet of water per year from Utah’s Colorado River Basin apportionment;
  • Authorize $210 million in funding for water infrastructure on Utah portion of Navajo Nation to access the water, which will help provide clean drinking water; and
  • Require the State of Utah to contribute $8 million in funding towards the settlement, which has been approved.