Salazar Signs San Juan Navajo Water Rights Settlement at Colorado River Water Users Association Conference



12/17/2010

Contact: Kendra Barkoff 202-208-6416

LAS VEGAS, NV — Today, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar joined Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley to sign the historic San Juan Navajo Water Rights at the Colorado River Water Users Association Annual Conference. Secretary Salazar also announced that next week he will be traveling to Mexico City to discuss opportunities for U.S.-Mexico collaboration on water and conservation issues.

“By signing this agreement today, the Obama administration is taking another step toward honoring the U.S.’s promises to Indian nations and helping communities gain access to clean, safe water supplies,” Secretary Salazar said. “This settlement honorably closes a long chapter of litigation and will bring real benefits to the Navajo people and surrounding communities.”

The San Juan Navajo Water Rights Settlement is aimed at resolving more than 20 years of efforts to adjudicate the Navajo Nation’s water right owners, it would protect existing uses of water, it would allow for future growth, and it would do so within the amount of water apportioned to New Mexico by the Colorado River Compacts.

It fulfills a U.S. government promise to support the Navajo people by providing a long-term sustainable water supply that will reduce the need for hauling water, improve health conditions on the reservation, and provide the foundation for future economic development in northwestern New Mexico.

At the speech today, Secretary Salazar also talked about how the Colorado River Basin serves as a model for multistate collaboration, but cautioned that the ongoing drought requires that all stakeholders continue to “choose consensus over controversy.”

“We must build a water policy that is inclusive of all interests – urban, agricultural, tribal, recreational, and environmental – and where all parties recognize that the other has an equal stake in keeping the river healthy,” the Secretary said.

Next week, Secretary Salazar will travel to Mexico City to meet with senior leaders in the Mexican government to discuss water, conservation, and natural resource issues of interest to both countries.

To read Secretary Salazar’s remarks, click here.

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