WASHINGTON, D.C.— Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Congressman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, have introduced legislation to create a negotiated settlement between the state of Utah and the Utah Navajo Nation (the Nation) over water rights claims on the Colorado River.
Last Congress, after thirteen years of deliberation, a federal negotiations team review, and the Navajo Nation Council's sign-off, the nation and the state came to an agreement that established a shared commitment to resolving reserved water rights claims through negotiated settlements rather than through costly litigation.
“I’m thrilled that over a decade of work with our Navajo friends and neighbors has culminated in this fair, equitable settlement that benefits all water users in the region,” Hatch said. “This result took a great deal of time and commitment, and I’m grateful so many willing partners stepped up to the plate to address this complex issue.”
“This is a big win for my constituents in the Navajo Nation,” said Chaffetz. “Water is the lifeblood of the West. With Navajo water rights finally quantified, they can now benefit economically from a resource that is rightfully theirs. The water infrastructure that will be built as a result of this agreement is long overdue. This pact provides tangible benefits that improve the quality of life for Utah Navajo.”
Statements of Support:
Gary Herbert, Governor of Utah
“For more than a decade the state of Utah and the Navajo Nation have worked together to reach consensus on these critical water right claims. This agreement did not happen overnight; it has taken time and commitment from partners on every side of the issue. This deliberative process has led to a fair and equitable agreement which will benefit Utah, the Navajo Nation, the federal government and all water users in the Colorado River Basin alike. I am hopeful Congress will follow the lead of Sen. Hatch and Rep. Chaffetz and move quickly to support our efforts.”
Sean D. Reyes, Utah Attorney General
"The agreement reflects a just, equitable, and reasonable resolution of the Nation's water rights claims in Utah, claims which are of particular importance because the water necessary to resolve them must come from Utah's precious Colorado River allocation. Efforts to settle these claims have been underway for over a decade and all parties need to receive the benefits of this settlement as quickly as possible without further inflating settlement costs."
Russell Begaye, Navajo Nation President
“The Navajo Nation is extremely grateful to Senator Hatch and Representative Chaffetz for introducing the Navajo Nation/State of Utah Water Rights Settlement Act. The settlement represents a win-win for the Navajo Nation and the State of Utah. Consequently, we are looking forward to working with Senator Hatch, Representative Chaffetz, and the rest of the Utah congressional delegation in moving this historic legislation through Congress.”
Lorenzo Bates, Navajo Nation Speaker of the House
“The introduction of the Navajo Nation/State of Utah Water Rights Settlement Act is a great step forward in bringing safe, clean drinking water to Utah Navajo Communities. Consequently, we greatly appreciate the leadership of Senator Hatch and Representative Chaffetz in championing this vital legislation.”