Arizona authorizes $5 billion for infrastructure with “historic” Colorado River water rights legislation

(UI) – On Monday, July 8, Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ), alongside Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Representatives Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ-6) Greg Stanton (D-AZ-4), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-7), and David Schweikert (R-AZ-1) introduced the Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement (NAIWRSA) Act of 2024.

The bipartisan, bicameral legislation ratifies and funds the Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement Agreement, which will address one of the longest-running water issues in Arizona by securing water rights for the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe, and the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe. 

The settlement will provide reliable and safe water for these communities, allowing the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe to lease their water, creating economic opportunities until local demand is met through new infrastructure.

The settlement authorizes $5 billion to acquire, build, and maintain essential water development and delivery projects, including a $1.75 billion distribution pipeline. In total, the Tribes would be guaranteed access to over 56,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water, and specific ground water rights and protections. Additionally, this legislation will establish a homeland for the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe.  

Kelly’s bill would ratify the settlement agreement, marking a significant step toward securing Arizona’s water future and providing much-needed water delivery systems for the Tribes. 

“This legislation and the settlement it ratifies represent a historic step forward in resolving a decades-long water rights dispute, providing certainty and stability for the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, and the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe. Securing water rights for these tribes upholds their sovereignty and lays the path for their growth and prosperity through increased investment in water infrastructure,” said Kelly.

“Ratifying this settlement honors our commitment to the tribes and helps secure our state’s water future, and we’ll work together as Republicans and Democrats to get it done.” 

“The tribes’ ratification of the Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement Agreement was the historic culmination of a decades-long effort to bring water to Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe, and the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, and it deserves full support from Congress,” said Grijalva. “

As the climate crisis continues to exacerbate an already devastating multigenerational drought, the federal government’s obligation to deliver clean, safe water and water infrastructure to the tribes could not be more pressing. I urge my colleagues to move this legislation to the president’s desk quickly.”  


“When this settlement is approved through Congress, it will be a monumental achievement for Arizona – one that at last upholds long-neglected federal trust obligations to Tribes by ensuring access to a clean and reliable water supply, while protecting our single most precious resource for generations to come,” said Stanton.  

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