N.M. Delegation Announces $235.1 Million From Infrastructure Law To Fulfill Indian Water Rights Settlements
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.), Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), and Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.) announced a $235.1 million allocation to continue fulfilling settlements of Indian water rights claims using funding from the Infrastructure Law and the Reclamation Water Settlements Fund.â€¯
As part of this overall allocation, the Navajo-Gallup Water Project, which includes the Navajo Nation and the Jicarilla Apache Nation as well as the City of Gallup, will receive $164 million this year from the Infrastructure Law and the Reclamation Water Settlements Fund. Another $2 million will be directed to Navajo-Gallup Water supply operations, maintenance and replacement efforts.
The Aamodt Water Rights Settlement, which includes the Pueblos of Nambé, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, and Tesuque, will receive $69.1 million in federal funding from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation this year.
“We have an obligation to fulfill our nation’s commitments to Tribal nations. That includes making sure Tribes have the autonomy and the resources to use the water they own,” said Heinrich, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “This historic investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers on that promise, providing critical funding for water security to the Navajo Nation, the Jicarilla Apache Nation, the Pueblos of Nambé, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, and Tesuque, and neighboring communities in New Mexico.”
“Water is essential for every community, and it’s vital that Tribes and Pueblos have access to clean, safe, and reliable water,” said Senator Luján, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “I’m proud to join the New Mexico Delegation in welcoming this strong federal investment of $235.1 million to fund existing Indian water rights settlement projects in New Mexico, including the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project and Aamodt. This historic investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help the federal government continue to meet its trust responsibility to Tribal Nations by funding enacted Indian water rights settlements.”
“This $327 million investment in the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project and the Aamodt Litigation Settlement represents Congress’s and the Biden Administration’s commitment to secure reliable water resources for these communities. We passed these appropriations last Congress because we know water is the essence of life. It is a natural resource so precious that tribal and land based communities have fought centuries to protect it. That’s why we worked so hard in Congress to make this funding possible,” said Leger Fernández. “These investments will honor our commitment to tribal communities and their neighbors by giving them access to a clean and reliable water supply. This will move our nation towards greater equity and protect our most precious resource – agua es vida.”
“The announcement of a historic $235.1 million investment into fulfilling settlements of Tribal water rights claims marks a long-overdue step towards ensuring water security for Tribal nations and Pueblo communities,” said Stansbury. “Assuring reliable access to clean water is foundational and paramount in assuring the wellbeing of our Tribal communities. This investment marks a crucial step in fulfilling the nation’s commitments to Indigenous communities.”
“Our Tribes and Pueblos have long awaited necessary water security resources. This investment fulfills our commitment to Indian water rights claims,” said Vasquez. “As we continue to honor our trust responsibilities and empower Indigenous communities through reliable water security, I am proud to welcome this investment.”
The Infrastructure Law is investing more than $13 billion directly in Tribal nations across the country and makes Tribal nations eligible to compete for billions more in infrastructure investments. That includes $2.5 billion to implement the Indian Water Rights Settlement Completion Fund, which will deliver long-promised water resources to Tribes and certainty to their neighboring communities.