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Supporting the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project

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Rep. Leger Fernández, Senator Luján introduce bill to fund project

WASHINGTON D.C. – The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is one step closer to becoming  a reality.

Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández, D-N.M., introduced a bill on Nov. 30. The bill amends the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project’s authorization to ensure it has the resources it needs to reach completion and to lower costs for the communities it serves. Senator Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., introduced the legislation in the Senate.

The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project was first authorized as part of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, which settled the Navajo Nation’s water rights in the San Juan Basin of New Mexico and funded the design and construction of the waterline to reach an estimated 250,000 people by the year 2040. Upon completion, the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project will provide long-term, reliable water supply from the San Juan River to the eastern Navajo Nation, the southwestern portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and Gallup.

Leger Fernández and Luján secured $67.3 million for the project in last year’s funding bill and another $123 million through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. However, unforeseen circumstances require new legislation authorizing additional time and resources to complete the project and for its long-term, sustainable operations and maintenance.

“The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project provides water infrastructure across Northwest New Mexico, including to the Navajo Nation, the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and the City of Gallup,” Leger Fernández said. “This bill updates the law to extend the project timeline, authorize additional project funding, and reduce the cost burden on local governments and communities.”

She also commented on how important clean water.

“This bill will get us a step closer to delivering clean, reliable water to these communities,” Leger Fernández said.We know that water is life and New Mexicans deserve clean running water wherever they live and do business.”

Rep. Melanie Stransbury, D-N.M., showed her support for the bill.

“Water is life and essential to our communities. For years, families living on the Navajo Nation and beyond have waited for water. We have a moral responsibility to ensure all of our communities have access to water and I am grateful for the extensive collaboration between the Navajo Nation, federal, state, local, and Tribal stakeholders in ensuring the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is completed,” Stansbury said. “I am proud to join Representative Leger Fernández and Senator Ben Ray Luján in introducing this critical legislation and supporting the implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to ensure every community has access to clean, safe drinking water.”

The amending legislation makes several important changes:

Increases the project funding authorization to match updated construction costs.

Extends the project timeline beyond 2024 to 2029 to provide additional time for completion.

Waives operations and maintenance costs for the Jicarilla Apache Nation and City of Gallup for 10 years, and guarantees the waiver of operations and maintenance costs for the Navajo Nation for 15 years.

Reasonably caps the construction repayment costs for the City of Gallup.

Allows the project to expand its service area to reach Navajo communities without running water.

Authorizes funding for conjunctive use wells for the City of Gallup to keep quality water flowing to residents while project construction is completed.

The Navajo Nation, Jicarilla Apache Nation, State of New Mexico, City of Gallup, and McKinley County support the legislation.

Staff Reports