To’Hajiilee announced an agreement that will deliver water to residents.
The Navajo community of To’Hajiilee announced an agreement that will deliver water to residents.
Mark Begay, president of the To’Hajiilee chapter of the Navajo Nation, said the settlement is a historic occasion, reported the New Mexico Political Report.
“I am a Marine Corps veteran, and it’s only fitting that this agreement came on Veterans Day,” said Begay during a virtual press conference “I’m overwhelmed with emotions: joy, happiness.”
To’Hajiilee is located 20 miles west of Albuquerque and is home to roughly 2,500 residents who rely on just one supply well. This well pumps water up from the Rio Puerco aquifer.
Unfortunately, the water levels in the aquifer have dropped in recent decades. What’s left is filled with corrosive dissolved solids. The Navajo Nation owns rights to surface water that could be piped into To’Hajiilee and serve the community.
To’Hajiilee and the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) created a project plan to build a pipeline that would transport the water from a holding tank in the county’s far western boundaries to To’Hajiilee, reported the New Mexico Political Report.
For this to happen, the Navajo Nation needed to acquire easements across four parcels of private land to complete the project.
“It is, I think, unfathomable that anybody in the United States of America should not have access to reliable, potable drinking water—and particularly for one of our Indigenous communities here within the boundaries of Bernalillo County, not to have access to potable water is a humanitarian tragedy,” said State Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque.
“Western Albuquerque Land Holdings and the Navajo Nation have come to the agreement with regard to not only the use of land for traversing the water, but also for—along with the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority—the use of the water [infrastructure]. It looks like at this point we have the agreements in place so that all the barriers have been removed,” added Ivey-Soto.
According to the Navajo Times, the path to the waterway was blocked for almost two years.