Luján, Leger Fernández, Heinrich Introduce Legislation to Fund and Complete the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced legislation that amends the Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project to ensure it has the resources and time needed to reach completion to deliver drinking water to northwestern New Mexico communities. The House companion will be introduced tomorrow by U.S. Representative Leger Fernández and is also co-sponsored U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.).

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 a long-term, sustainable water supply from the San Juan River to roughly 43 Chapters on the eastern Navajo Nation, the southwestern portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and the City of Gallup, which currently rely on a rapidly depleting groundwater supply of poor quality.

According to the Bureau of Reclamation, in 2020 and 2021 water deliveries to Navajo and Jicarilla Apache communities began on the Cutter Lateral. On the San Juan Lateral, construction is underway and is anticipated to be completed in 2028. Full project completion is planned for 2029. When complete, it will include approximately 300 miles of pipeline, two water treatment plants, 19 pumping plants and multiple water storage tanks.

Senator Luján and Congresswoman Leger Fernandez secured $137 million for the project through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law toward the total authorized project cost. However, new legislation is required to authorize additional time and resources to complete the project and for its long-term, sustainable operations and maintenance.

“Amending current law is vital to ensure the Navajo Nation, city of Gallup, and Jicarilla Apache Nation in New Mexico have access to safe, clean, and reliable water,” said Luján. “On the Navajo Nation, approximately 15,500 households live without running water or haul drinking water to their homes. The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project will provide a reliable and more sustainable surface water supply to help improve public health and economic opportunities for the region. I’m proud to reintroduce this legislation that will make sure the Navajo Nation’s Indian water settlement project will be completed by 2029 and fully funded, and incorporate cost-saving measures during construction to reduce the financial burden on Tribes and local government. I look forward to working with my New Mexico colleagues to swiftly pass these amendments to ensure that our communities’ water needs are met in the San Juan Basin for years to come.”

“Communities in northwest New Mexico, the Navajo Nation, and the Jicarilla Apache Nation deserve water security and clean drinking water. We made huge investments toward fulfilling this fundamental promise through the Infrastructure Law last year. Now it’s time we get the project fully completed,” said Heinrich. “By extending the project timeline, making more funding available, and reducing the cost burden on local governments and communities, this legislation gets the job done. I am committed to delivering the resources our communities deserve.”

Since I was elected to Congress, I have prioritized funding for the Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project so we can provide clean, reliable, and affordable water to the Navajo people and surrounding communities in New Mexico. We secured $260 million through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and $67 million through the FY22 appropriations process to move the project forward,” said Leger Fernández. “The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project Amendments Act builds upon this work.  We won’t stop until this project is completed because in New Mexico, we know that water sustains us. Sabemos que Agua Es Vida.”

“The Navajo Nation appreciates Senator Luján’s and Representative Leger-Fernández’s leadership in introducing the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project Amendments Act in their respective houses of Congress. Once fully completed, the Project will convey a greatly needed reliable municipal and industrial water supply from the San Juan River to 40 Navajo Nation Chapters located in the eastern side of the Navajo Nation, the City of Gallup, and part of the Jicarilla Apache Nation. Apart from eight Navajo Nation Chapters, these communities currently rely on a depleting groundwater supply that is of poor quality and inadequate to meet their current and future demands currently. Since 2021, eight Chapters have been served with San Juan River water as the first of two Project laterals has been completed. The Navajo Nation is committed to working with the State of New Mexico and our Project partners the City of Gallup and the Jicarilla Apache Nation to complete the entire Project and bring quality and reliable water sources to all our communities,” said Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren.

“The City of Gallup strongly supports the Legislative Amendments to PL 111-11. The completion of the Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project (NGWSP) is critical in order to provide surface water to the City of Gallup, its surrounding communities and our project partners in the Navajo Nation. Due to the rapidly diminishing supply of groundwater, funding the completion of the NGWSP will ensure the health and economic prosperity of our rural Gallup and Navajo Nation communities,” said MayorLouie Bonaguidi.

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.
  • Establishes trust funds for operations and maintenance costs for the Navajo Nation and the Jicarilla Apache Nation once construction is complete. 
  • Allows the project to expand its service area to reach Navajo communities without running water. 

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

For more information about the NGWSP, visit: 



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