FORT McDOWELL INDIAN COMMUNITY WATER RIGHTS SETTLEMENT REVISION ACT OF 2006 -- (Senate - September 13, 2006)
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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I am pleased that today the Senate has agreed to pass S. 2464, the Fort McDowell Indian Community Water Rights Settlement Revision Act of 2006, with an amendment that I have also offered. S. 2464 amends the Fort McDowell Indian Community Water Rights Settlement Act of 1990, which ratified a negotiated settlement of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation's water entitlement to flow from the Verde River. I am pleased to be joined by Senator Kyl as an original cosponsor of this bill and the amendment.
The 1990 Settlement Act provided, among other things, for the Secretary of the Interior to provide the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation a no-interest loan pursuant to the Small Reclamation Project Act for construction of facilities for the conveyance and delivery of water to the Fort McDowell reservation. However, during environmental review conducted prior to construction of the irrigation system, 227 of the acres to be irrigated were discovered to contain significant cultural sites. With the agreement of the tribe, the Secretary withdrew those acres from development, but replacement lands have proven difficult and expensive to mitigate and implementation of the Act has been left uncompleted.
The current values of the no-interest loan outstanding and the current cost of the Department of the Interior's obligation to mitigate replacement acreage are nearly identical, thus the tribe and the Department have agreed to resolve this issue by mutually releasing their remaining obligations under the reclamation provisions of the 1990 Settlement Act. S. 2464 would implement this mutually agreed upon resolution.
After approval of this measure by the Indian Affairs Committee, a potential ambiguity in the bill was identified, possibly calling into question the finality of the 1990 Settlement Act. The amendment offered strikes the potentially ambiguous language and inserts new language to clarify that the agreement of the Yavapai Nation and the Department of the Interior contained in S. 2464 achieves a full and final implementation to the Fort McDowell Water Rights Settlement Act of 1990.
I yield the floor.