DOI announces plans to fulfill the terms of Tribal water settlements in the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill negotiated by Senator Romney
SALT LAKE CITY—U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) today applauded the Department of Interior’s plans to fulfill settlements of Indian water rights claims using funding from the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was negotiated by Senator Romney and his colleagues. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act fully funds the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act, legislation authored by Romney to bring running water to the 40% of Navajo Nation in Utah who lack it.
“Nearly half of the members of Utah’s Navajo Nation do not have running water in their homes,” Senator Romney said. “I appreciate Secretary Haaland’s work in implementing this funding, which we negotiated in the bipartisan infrastructure bill to fulfill critical water needs for the tribal communities in Utah—making sure that the Navajo Nation has access to water and wastewater facilities and providing long-needed water infrastructure for its citizens. I’m 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.”
“Water is a sacred resource, and water rights are crucial to ensuring the health, safety and empowerment of Tribal communities. Thanks to congressional leaders, like Senator Mitt Romney, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will allow the Interior Department to uphold our trust responsibilities and ensure that Tribal communities receive the water resources they have long been promised,” said Secretary Haaland. “I am grateful that Tribes, some of whom have been waiting for this funding for decades, are finally getting the resources they are owed.”
“We’ve been working for many years with Navajo leaders to secure this agreement and bring clean drinking water to the Navajo Nation and more certainty to Utah’s water rights,” Governor Cox said. “We’re grateful for Senator Romney’s good work to include this funding in the infrastructure legislation, to Senator Hatch before him, and to other members of Congress from Utah for advancing the effort over many years. We’re happy to see the funding allocated.”
“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 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.”
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.