June 17, 2022
A part of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project completed near Newcomb, N.M. Photo captured on Friday, June 17.

Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project major portion completed

A major component of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is completed and will deliver clean drinking water to two tribal nations.

By Sarah Flower

with Tanya Trujillo, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science,
U.S. Department of the Interior


Sarah Flower:

A recently constructed pipeline will now deliver clean water to over 1500 households in the Navajo Nation. As part of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, the cutter lateral pipeline is now providing water to the Navajo Nation. Until this construction began, 1 in 3 people did not have indoor plumbing, and had to haul drinking water to their homes. This project is the foundation of the Navajo Nation water rights settlement in the San Juan River Basin in New Mexico. It was authorized for construction back in 2009 by the omnibus Public Land Management Act. Tanya Trujillo is the assistant secretary for Water and Science at the Department of the U.S. Interiors office. Trujillo says this project is not only necessary, but a long time coming the pipeline.

Tanya Trujillo:

This is significant for the Navajo Nation because it does bring real water to real people in real time. And that's been the catch line that we've used to describe the project from the beginning. It is it's a project that enables Navajo communities and chapters to have more reliable access to water than they had before. And it is very sad that many members of the Navajo Nation and other tribal communities in our country still do not have access to clean, reliable supplies of drinking water for their domestic purposes.

Sarah Flower:

News of the completion of the cutter lateral pipeline comes at a time where drought in the west and in particular, the Colorado River Basin is extreme. Trujillo notes that her and her team are well aware of this issue, and are currently looking at solutions, all while recognizing the importance of having clean drinking water and indoor plumbing to the Navajo Nation and other tribal reservations.

Tanya Trujillo:

It's very challenging right now we're trying to encourage all of the water users to conserve more water to use less water. And I appreciate the attention of that at the same time that we're trying to bring new sources to communities that have not had water, like the Navajo Nation. But we have an obligation to do a lot of things at the same time. We have an obligation to think through this situation that we have now with as much creativity and ingenuity as possible. And that's exactly what we're doing.

Sarah Flower:

Construction of this project has been in the works for 10 years, and it's scheduled to be completed by 2029. The project costs for fiscal year 2022 is $123 million. For design and construction. It's part of President Biden's bipartisan infrastructure law. When complete the water supply project will include approximately 300 miles of pipeline, two water treatment plants, 19 Pumping plants and multiple water storage tanks. The project is also expected to deliver clean drinking water to the southwest area of the Jicarilla Apache Reservation and the City of Gallup, reporting for KSUT Tribal Radio. I'm Sarah Flower

Listen to the audio for the full story or don't have time subscribe to KSUT Tribal Radio Podcast and listen whenever. TRT [3:15]

Copyright 2022 by KSUT Tribal Radio