Home Water fund Navajo-Gallup Water Project Faces $ 330 Million Gap »Albuquerque Journal

Navajo-Gallup Water Project Faces $ 330 Million Gap »Albuquerque Journal

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The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project aims to bring potable water to the Eastern Navajo Nation, the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and the City of Gallup. The US Bureau of Reclamation said on Monday that the $ 1.7 billion project faces a funding shortfall of $ 330 million and that the completion date would likely be delayed until 2029. (Courtesy permission of the US Bureau of Reclamation)

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Construction of a massive Eastern Navajo Nation, Jicarilla Apache Nation and City of Gallup water project to proceed “full steam ahead,” despite a $ 330 million funding gap. dollars, federal officials told state lawmakers on Monday.

Patrick Page, director of the Four Corners construction office of the United States Bureau of Reclamation, said the cost of the Navajo-Gallup water supply project is now estimated at $ 1.7 billion.

Recent spikes in the costs of pipeline materials and equipment have pushed up the price of the project, as has the need for complex ramifications of two major water transmission lines.

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“It was assumed that the connections to these distribution systems (Navajo Tribal Utility Authority) would be much less complex,” Page said at a meeting of the water and natural resources committee.

The integration of the San Juan power plant reservoir facilities will also delay the completion of the project from 2024 to 2028 or 2029.

The unfinished system currently provides water from the San Juan River to approximately 6,000 people in eight Navajo communities.

Residents of Jicarilla Apache could receive water from the project later this summer.

Federally funded construction began nearly ten years ago to build 300 miles of pipeline, two water treatment plants, 19 plumbing plants and several water storage tanks in an area of ​​7,800 square miles.

Claim estimates that approximately 250 miles of pipeline are completed, under construction or under contract.

“We don’t expect the funding gap to affect us until at least 2024, so there is plenty of time to close it,” Page said.

An increase in annual congressional appropriations could close the gap and complete the pipeline for residents of far western New Mexico.

The people of Navajo “urgently” need the project because the Indian health service built most of the water infrastructure in the 1960s and 1970s, said Natanya Garnenez, hydrologist in the Navajo Nation’s Department of Water Resources.

But aging systems only support residential use, and even now 30% of Navajo residents do not have running water.

“Due to little or no commercial or industrial development, the Navajo Nation still lacks the capacity to maintain a stable economy and still lacks the capacity to increase employment opportunities for our people,” said Garnenez declared.

In addition to annual Congressional Reclamation credits, individual Navajo chapters also receive money for regional pipeline segments from the New Mexico Tribal Infrastructure Fund.

State Senator Benny Shendo Jr., D-Jemez Pueblo, urged Navajo officials to use American Rescue Plan Act funds to speed up the pipeline project.

“As long as we fragment this, it won’t happen,” Shendo said.

Theresa Davis is a member of the Report for America body covering Water and the Environment for the Albuquerque Journal.

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