The Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act would provide access to water and wastewater facilities for the Navajo Nation.
Utah members of the Navajo Nation would no longer have to haul water to their homes under a bill the U.S. Senate passed.
The Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act would provide access to water and wastewater facilities for the Navajo Nation as well as a water delivery system.
The purpose of the bill is to end decades of conflict among the Navajo Nation, the federal government and Utah over water rights, according to Deseret. According to the Navajo Nation Department of Water Resources, nearly a third of the Navajo Nation population does not have access to clean reliable drinking water.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted the Navajo Nation in our state, and the shortage of running water in nearly half of homes is contributing to the spread, “ said Sen. Mitt Romney.
The bill would provide the Navajo Nation with the right to 81,500 acre-feet of water a year from Utah’s Colorado River Basin apportionment. It also allocates $210 million for clean drinking water projects, and Utah would contribute $8 million toward the settlement. The state has already approved this settlement, reported the Deseret.
The Navajo Nation welcomed passage of the bill, according to President Jonathan Nez.
The Navajo Nation has surpassed New York and New Jersey as having the highest per-capita COVID-19 infection rate in the country, according to a report by CNN.
“Providing clean water for the Navajo people is a challenging task and we have worked with our friends in Congress and across the country to move this important measure forward,” said Nez.
Rep. Rob Bishop introduced a House version of the bill in January 2019, reported Deseret.