WASHINGTON (February 23, 2022) – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) and Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.) are welcoming U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland’s announcement that, following feedback received from Tribal consultation, the Department will allocate $1.7 billion of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding this year to enacted Indian water rights settlements.
As part of this overall allocation, the Navajo-Gallup Water Project, which includes the Navajo Nation and the Jicarilla Apache Nation, will receive $123 million this year from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This funding comes on top of the $51 million for new construction and $5.3 million for operations, maintenance, and replacement that was included the President’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request.
The Aamodt Water Rights Settlement, which includes the Pueblos of Nambé, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, and Tesuque, will receive $26 million in mandatory federal funding from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation this year. The President’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request includes an additional $10 million for the Aamodt Water Rights Settlement.
“These water settlements represent a promise to Tribal nations under treaty obligations,” said Senator Heinrich, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “The historic funding that we delivered as part of the Infrastructure Law will go a long way toward finally fulfilling this promise and providing critical water security to Tribal nations and long-term certainty to their neighboring communities in New Mexico.”
“I'm honored to join my colleagues in welcoming a strong federal investment of $1.7 billion to meet existing water infrastructure needs of Tribal and Pueblo communities in New Mexico and across the country,” said Senator Luján, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “These communities have long been stewards and caretakers of our land and water, and this federal funding will ensure our country lives up to our Trust responsibilities to support water rights settlements and resources."
“The infrastructure law provides critical funding for major water infrastructure projects in New Mexico that will promote economic development and help fulfill the federal government’s Indian water rights obligations. The critical funding for the Navajo-Gallup water project and the Aamodt Water Rights Settlement will bring clean and reliable water supply to communities across my district. As Chair of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples, I am committed to continuing to promote tribal sovereignty, self-determination, and provide tribal and rural communities the resources they need to thrive,” said Rep. Leger Fernández.
“We must ensure that Tribes and Pueblos across our state have access to clean, safe drinking water,” said Rep. Melanie Stansbury, a member of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples. “I’m proud that The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers a significant down payment on the federal government’s commitments to our Indigenous communities, and I am dedicated to our continued work to invest in our critical infrastructure to create jobs and expand access to clean, safe water for all New Mexicans.”
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which all of the Democratic members in the New Mexico Delegation voted to pass last year, will invest more than $13 billion directly in Tribal nations across the country and makes Tribal nations eligible to compete for billions more in infrastructure investments. That includes $2.5 billion to implement the Indian Water Rights Settlement Completion Fund, which will deliver long-promised water resources to Tribes and certainty to their neighboring communities.
Federal policy supports the resolution of disputes regarding Indian water rights through negotiated settlements. Settlement of Indian water rights disputes breaks down barriers and helps create conditions that improve water resources management by providing certainty as to the rights of all water users who are parties to the disputes. There were 34 congressionally enacted Indian Water Rights Settlements as of November 15, 2021, when the Infrastructure Law was signed into law.