Senate Approves Sinema-Backed Bill Recognizing Navajo Nation’s Water Rights

Jun 5, 2020

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate has approved the bipartisan Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act—legislation cosponsored by Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema that provides certainty and funding to meet the water needs of the Navajo Nation.
“The Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act settles a decades-long negotiation and provides more certainty to Navajo Nation leaders on water security. I’ll continue working across the aisle to ensure the federal government makes good on its promises to tribal nations,” said Sinema. 
The Navajo Nation’s water rights in Utah have never been formally recognized. The Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act settles the Navajo Nation’s water claim in Utah, funds critical water infrastructure for the Navajo Nation in Utah, honors the federal government’s trust relationship with the Navajo Nation, and saves taxpayers millions of dollars in potential litigation costs over the water dispute.
Specifically, the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act provides the Navajo Nation the right to deplete 81,500 acre-feet of water per year from Utah’s Colorado River Basin apportionment. The bill also authorizes $210 million in funding for water infrastructure on Utah portion of Navajo Nation to access the water.
Recently, Sinema helped secure $142,964 from the Bureau of Reclamation for a project to provide clean water to communities in the Navajo Nation. Sinema also recently urged Congressional leaders to include increased resources for water and sanitation projects for Tribal communities in future coronavirus relief legislation.