Rep. Leger Fernández, Senator Luján Introduce Bill to Fund and Complete the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Leger Fernández and Senator Ben Ray Luján introduced a bill that 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.
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 the City of Gallup. Congresswoman Leger Fernandez and Senator Lujan 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.
“Access to clean and safe running water is a basic human right,“ said Luján. “Amending the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project will ensure a sustainable water supply for the Navajo Nation, city of Gallup, and Jicarilla Apache Nation in New Mexico. These amendments will make certain that the Tribe’s Indian water settlement project is fully funded and completed by 2029, and that cost-saving measures during construction and for its long-term operations and maintenance are adopted. I am proud to lead this legislation and will fight for its prompt consideration by the Senate to ensure that our communities’ water needs are met in the San Juan Basin in New Mexico.”
“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,” said Rep. Leger Fernández. “This bill updates the law to extend the project timeline, authorize additional project funding, and reduce the cost burden on local governments and communities. This bill will get us a step closer to delivering clean, reliable water to these communities. We know that water is life and New Mexicans deserve clean running water wherever they live and do business.
“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,” said Rep. Stansbury. “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.
The full text of the House bill can be found here.