Water Rights of the Dineh-Navajo Tribe, USA


<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns"><div class="less">In December of 2010 a court settlement granted the Navajo Nation increased access to and usage of water from the San Juan River. This was the culmination of a long history of legal battles but there is still very strong tension between local agriculture and the Navajo People over water rights and usage. </div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none">Former Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) introduced SB 2019, the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Agreement and Act of 2012, in February of that year. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) was the bill’s only cosponsor. Under this settlement, the Navajo Nation would be required to permanently waive their aboriginal (as in first priority) rights to the Little Colorado River (LCR) watershed in exchange for promises from Congress for two water delivery projects serving two (out of 110) communities. Additionally, the Nation wanted a comprehensive rather than piecemeal deal and this Settlement was not comprehensive. It lacked many components the Dineh people asked for. <br/><br/>This settlement also would have supported the ongoing environmental injustices caused by the coal economy on Navajo Nation. More specifically, it would have made water delivery to Navajo and Hopi communities contingent upon the renewal of various leases – for transmission lines, coal and water supplies – for the Navajo Generating Station through 2044.<br/><br/>Another issue is that the settlement did not actually quantify Navajo water rights to the LCR and did not allow for fair compensation for Navajo water from the LCR. Upstream users were allocated and guaranteed specific amounts of water, even in times of drought, and the Navajo Nation was not. <br/><br/>Lastly, the process to approve the settlement completely excluded the Navajo people and their actual needs for water. It was introduced in a press release from Senator Kyl’s office before it was even introduced to the Navajo Tribal Council and the dense language was never explained to the Navajo People. <br/><br/>The Navajo People organized, educated themselves, and convinced their leaders to vote no. This will continue to be an issue but for now the bill is dead [www.ncrp.org].<br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Water Rights of the Dineh-Navajo Tribe, USA</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/united-states-of-america">United States of America </a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Province</td><td>New Mexico</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Site</td><td>San Juan River</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Accuracy of Location</td><td>MEDIUM regional level</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Water Management</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Water access rights and entitlements</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td><a href='/commodity/water'>Water</a></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Details</td><td class="columns"><div class="less">Dine’ community members have raised concerns that Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement Agreement (NAIWRSA) gives the Navajo Nation only 31,000 acre-feet per year of 4th Priority Colorado River water, which would not be available in times of drought, and would require more than $500 million of new federal funding to pay for pipeline infrastructure to deliver water to communities in need. The federal funding would have to be appropriated by U.S. Congress (http://www.poormagazine.org/node/3324) and historical relations between U.S. government and Dineh Navajo have not seen much fruit. </div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none">Water Use (http://www.frontiernet.net/~nndwr_wmb/water_monitoring__inventory.htm):<br/><br/>Total Navajo domestic water use is approximately 12,000 acre-feet annually. Forty percent of the Navajo Nation households haul water for domestic use. Navajo per capita water use on the reservation ranges from 10 gallons per day for water haulers to 100 gallons per day for those living in larger communities and have running water. Most non-Navajo communities in the region use more than 200 gallons per day.<br/><br/>Approximately 20,000 acres of small Navajo farms use approximately 100,000 acre-feet of water annually. This acreage does not include historically irrigated lands.<br/><br/>The Navajo Indian Irrigation Project irrigates approximately 60,000 acres and diverts approximately 206,000 acre-feet per year. When completed, it will irrigate 110,630 acres of land and divert 508,000 acre-feet per year.<br/><br/>The estimated 300,000 permitted animal units obtain water from approximately 900 windmills and 7,000 stock ponds across the Navajo Nation.<br/><br/>Industrial and mining water use in the region is approximately 75,000 acre-feet per year. In Black Mesa, Arizona, the Peabody Coal Company uses approximately 4,500 acre-feet annually.<br/><br/>Note: 1 acre-feet equals 325,851 gallons<br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Rural</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Potential Affected Population</td><td>160-140,000 (2011 Navajo population estimate in Arizona)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Start Date</td><td>1950</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Relevant government actors</td><td>US Government, Navajo Nation, State of Arizona</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>Concerned Citizens for Diné Water Rights, Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission, Dine’ Care, To’ Nizhoni Ani’, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Council Advocating an Indigenous Manifesto, ECHOES</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>In REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>Farmers<br /> Indigenous groups or traditional communities<br /> Women</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Development of a network/collective action<br /> Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism<br /> Media based activism/alternative media<br /> Street protest/marches</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Environmental Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Desertification/Drought</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>In operation</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>Court decision (victory for environmental justice)<br /> New legislation<br /> Moratoria</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Development of Alternatives</td><td>Former Navajo Nation Chairman Peter MacDonald suggested that Navajos should control and undertake the study of the aquifer themselves and this includes paying for it. He stated that Navajo should not only do a study, but develop the well and own it. Thirdly, he argues that the Navajo Nation must control the usage and allocation of that C-aquifer (the specific aquifer where they get their water from). <br/><br/>MacDonald said that “If anybody wants to use that water that the Navajo Nation developed, then<br/><br/>it’s up to the Navajo Nation how they’re going to allocate that.” If Mohave Generating Station or Peabody want water, he said, “Then, ‘OK, how<br/><br/>much are you willing to pay?’<br/><br/>“Charge for the use of the water. That’s the bottom line so far as I’m concerned, and it’s doable,” MacDonald said. “It’s doable all the way around. And there’s no reason why the Navajo Nation should beg and beg and kneel down to MGS and Southern California Edison and Peabody. They don’t need to do that.” [1]</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>No</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>The Navajo Nation has endured a long history of environmental injustice with corporations and government agencies continually desecrating their rights. In 2013, the Navajo received a court victory that assured them of their water rights. It is hard to be sure that this will result in subsequent action in line with this law. Only time will tell. Some say the decision will be appealed (http://www.daily-times.com/ci_23896295/navajo-water-rights-settlement-approved-aztec-district-court). </td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Legislations</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Proposed San Juan River Basin in New Mexico Navajo Nation Water Rights Settlement Agreement signed in April 2005 and settlement signed in 2010 that fulfilled the 2005 agreement. This aggrement allocates more than 600,000 acre-feet of diversions and 325,67<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://nnwrc.org/new-mexico/" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Proposed Navajo Nation Council Resolution Water Rights Settlement 2010 (Navajo Nation does not support this)<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://eagle51.fatcow.com/docs/20100716settlementagreement.pdf" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Navajo President Shelly Praises Courts Decision Regarding Navajo Water Rights<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.navajo-nsn.gov/News%20Releases/OPVP/2013/nov/111113%20PR%20Shelly%20San%20Juan%20Water.pdf" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">References</td><td><table><tr><td><p> In Historic Vote, UN Declares Water a Fundamental Human Right<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.democracynow.org/2010/7/29/in_historic_vote_un_declares_access" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> How Underfunded Native Nonprofits Beat the Odds to Protect Water Rights<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.ncrp.org/publications/responsive-pubs/rp-archive/responsive-philanthropy-spring-2013/native-nonprofits-beat-the-odds" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> PRESIDENT SHELLY LAUDS CONTRACT AWARD FOR NAVAJO-GALLUP WATER DELIVERY SYSTEM 2014<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.navajopresident.org/2014/04/01/president-shelly-lauds-contract-award-for-navajo-gallup-water-delivery-system/" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Native News Network<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.nativenewsnetwork.com/court-of-appeals-affirms-navajo-water-rights-in-the-san-juan-river-basin.html" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Daily Times<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.daily-times.com/ci_23896295/navajo-water-rights-settlement-approved-aztec-district-court" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Navajo water rights: Truths and betrayals<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.hcn.org/issues/40.13/navajo-water-rights-truths-and-betrayals" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> A long historical campaign of genocide against the Dineh<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://dinewaterrights.org/a-long-historical-campaign-of-genocide-against-the-dineh/" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> From the frontlines of the water wars: Diné and Hopi water rights at risk, protesters gather on Navajo Nation<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.indigenousaction.org/from-the-fontlines-of-the-water-wars-dine-and-hopi-water-rights-at-risk-protesters-gather-on-navajo-nation/" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Navajo Council votes 'No!' to Little Colorado River water rights theft<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/brenda-norrell/2012/07/navajo-council-votes-no-little-colorado-river-water-rights-theft" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> [1] Diné Water Rights<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://dinewaterrights.org/former-chairman-mcdonald-says-navajos-must-control-their-water/" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Media Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Water Rights March Video<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jBXiXWcrdXM" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Documents</td><td><table><tr><td><p><strong>Protests against visit by 2 US Senators McCain and Kyl to Navajo Nation</strong> <br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/protests_agains_visit_of_US_Senators_Bill_McCain_and_Kyl_to_Navajo_Nation.jpg" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p><strong>Protests against Senate Bill 2109</strong> SB2109 would further restrict tribal access to water<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/protests_against_Senate_Bill_2109_that_would_further_restrict_tribal_access_to_water.jpg" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Comments</td><td>This is one of the top 40 influential environmental justice cases in the United States identified from a national survey of environmental activists, scholars and other leaders by graduate students at the University of Michigan</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>Bernadette Grafton, [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>07/05/2015</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>
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