WASHINGTON, D.C. AND FARMINGTON, N.M.-- Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced today that he is awarding a $300,000 Water 2025 Challenge Grant to the Navajo Nation to improve the efficiency of a major farm irrigation system serving the tribe. Reclamation Commissioner Robert W. Johnson presented the grant to Navajo Nation officials at a ceremony this afternoon in the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry office in Farmington, N. M.
“This grant will help the Navajo Nation and the region to address critical 21st century water challenges and conserve scarce water resources for future generations,” Secretary Kempthorne said. “It will save an additional 26,600 acre-feet of water per year on the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project. This grant is an outstanding example of what our Water for America initiatives aim to accomplish across the West.”
The Navajo Agricultural Products Industry, the tribe’s farming and agri-business enterprise, will use the grant to install a more efficient canal gate operating system and to develop an irrigation scheduling program to decrease annual canal spills and reduce incidents of over-application of water to farm fields in the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project. In addition to Interior’s $300,000 contribution, the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry will provide cash and in-kind services for the project, which has an estimated total cost of about $1.09 million.
Granted under the Bureau of Reclamation’s Water 2025 program, the challenge grants assist water districts, tribes and other water management agencies by providing funds to improve their water delivery system operations. The grants enable water districts to develop plans of action focused on improving efficiency and operations on a regional and/or basin perspective.
The Bureau of Reclamation has been responsible for the design and construction of the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project facilities up to the turnouts at the individual farm units. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, in cooperation with the Navajo Nation, is responsible for developing the farm units, farm distribution systems, drainage, and farm-to-market roads.
The project facilities are being constructed in eleven blocks of about 10,000 acres each. Seven blocks are currently under irrigation. The Navajo Nation’s agricultural business enterprises produce alfalfa, corn, potatoes, wheat, dried beans, onions, pumpkins, popcorn, and tree fruits.
For additional information about the Interior Challenge Grant Award, please contact Justyn Hock at (970) 248-0625 or Pat Page at (970) 385-6560.