WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján welcomed news that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a $19.6 million construction contract to build the Tohlakai Pumping Plant, a significant milestone and the first pumping plant for the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project.
“Access to drinkable water is a basic necessity for public health and economic development, and it’s intolerable that many Navajos in New Mexico still must travel miles and miles to bring back water for their families to drink, bathe and cook with every day,” Udall said. “We have been working for many years to advance the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, and this contract is a major milestone. The Tohlaki Pumping Plant will help provide groundwater from Navajo Nation wells until the overall project construction is complete. I will keep fighting as a member of the Appropriations Committee to see this investment finished.”
“This investment in the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is a key milestone toward ensuring New Mexico families have access to safe drinking water,” Heinrich said. “Not only will this help provide much needed long-term water security and improve public health for the Navajo Nation, the city of Gallup, and the Jicarilla Apache Nation, but will also promote economic development across the region. I will continue to work to uphold our commitments to our Native communities and ensure they have the resources they need to thrive.”
“A source of clean, safe drinking water is essential to the health and wellbeing of both the residents of a community as well as their local economy,” Luján said. “The Navajo-Gallup project is essential to ensure that the Navajo Nation and its local community chapters, the city of Gallup, and the Jicarilla Apache Nation have the water resources needed to provide for their people and encourage economic growth that will create new opportunities in these communities. This latest announcement represents another important step forward in the construction of this vital project.”
The Navajo-Gallup project is a major component of the historic 2010 Navajo Nation Water Rights Settlement Agreement. The project will supply water to the eastern portion of the Navajo Nation, the southwestern portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation and the city of Gallup, serving the future water needs of approximately 250,000 people.
According to the Department of the Interior, construction of the Tohlakai Pumping Plant about eight miles north of Gallup is expected to take 26 months and create 140 direct and indirect jobs. Construction of the overall Navajo-Gallup project, which began in June 2012 and is on schedule to be finished in 2024, is expected to create over 600 jobs during that period.
The Tohlakai Pumping Plant will be used in the short term to provide groundwater from Navajo Nation wells until the overall project construction is complete, including completion of the pipeline from the San Juan River. Additional pumps will be installed to increase the total capacity to about 36.5 cfs of treated surface water from the San Juan River to Navajo communities and the cities of Gallup and Window Rock, Ariz.