Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly today announced a $43 million financial assistance agreement for design and construction of a portion of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project. The leaders broke ground in June on the historic project, which, when completed, will have the capacity to deliver clean running water to a potential future population of approximately 250,000. Today's milestone is one in a series of steps that are part of the larger Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project.
"Today's agreement signifies not only another major milestone in progress toward the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, but also the high priority that the Obama Administration has placed on completing the project to deliver clean running water to Navajo communities--many for the first time," said Secretary Salazar.
The $43 million agreed upon today will enable the Navajo Nation to complete the lower reaches of the Cutter Lateral--one of two branches of the project. The Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project will provide a long-term, sustainable water supply to 43 Navajo Chapters; the City of Gallup, New Mexico; and the southwestern portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation.
"The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is a great project for the Navajo Nation," said Navajo President Ben Shelly. "We are going to bring safe drinking water to thousands of Navajo families. We are also going to create more than 600 jobs for our people. I want to thank every agency that's involved in making this project a reality for our people."
Under the terms of today's agreement, the Navajo Nation will be responsible for the design, construction, and oversight of Reaches 24.1, 25, and 26 of the Cutter Lateral, which consists of approximately 43.4 miles of water pipeline, a pumping station, and four storage tanks. Construction will be located on the Navajo Reservation along the U.S. Highway 550 corridor south of Farmington, New Mexico. The project participants already have begun design and other pre-construction work, and water delivery to communities along the Cutter Lateral could occur as soon as 2015.
"This project is a matter of improving the quality of life for Diné people in the affected communities," said Navajo Speaker Johnny Naize. "The council and I are delighted to know that this project will enable easier access to safe drinking water and create opportunities for development and growth."
The first construction contract for Reaches 24.1 and 25 is expected to be awarded in the spring of 2013. All reaches under today's agreement are scheduled to be constructed by 2016. The pipeline will extend from an area near the community of Counselor and tie into the existing distribution systems for the communities of Ojo Encino, Torreon, and Pueblo Pintado.
The Bureau of Reclamation will be responsible for the design and construction of the uppermost reach of the Cutter Lateral, including the Cutter Lateral Water Treatment Plant.
The larger Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is the cornerstone of the Navajo Nation Water Rights Settlement in the San Juan River Basin in New Mexico. Project authorization was provided by Congress in the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, and supplemental funding for the project was obtained in the Claims Settlement Act of 2010. The project consists of two separate branches, Cutter and San Juan Laterals; approximately 280 miles of pipeline; two water treatment plants; and several pumping plants and storage tanks.
The project is one of 14 high-priority infrastructure projects identified by the Obama Administration to be expedited through the permitting and environmental review process. The first construction contract was awarded in April, 2012 for Reach 12A on the San Juan Lateral. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by 2024. The current status of the project is publicly available through the Federal Infrastructure Projects Dashboard web site designed to enhance efficiency, accountability, and transparency of the federal permitting and review process for all 14 high-priority infrastructure projects.