MONUMENT VALLEY, Utah, May 28, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox, and Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez signed a federal reserved water rights settlement agreement today that was 18 years in the making.
At ceremonies in the picturesque Monument Valley, the showcased agreement recognizes and protects the reserved water rights of the Navajo Nation and will help bring clean drinking water to the Navajo people in Utah, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
“Today we celebrate the opportunity to bring drinking water infrastructure to the Navajo Nation and water certainty for Utah, the fastest growing state in the country,” Cox said.
“Sometimes the most important work done by government is done quietly on issues that don’t sound very exciting but which make a big difference in the lives of people. This is one of those times. I’m proud of the staff and leaders who have worked diligently and in good faith for many years to make this happen.”
The settlement recognizes a reserved water right of 81,500 acre-feet for current and future water use within the Navajo Nation in Utah. The federal government will pay the Navajo Nation more than $210 million, and the state of Utah will contribute $8 million toward water projects on the Navajo Nation.
Also on hand, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said, “Utah leaders have long-prioritized finding a solution to bring running water and wastewater facilities to the Utah portion of Navajo Nation, including ensuring its citizens have proper water infrastructure, and I picked up that torch when I came to the Senate by reintroducing the Utah Navajo Water Rights Settlement Act.
“Thank you to everyone who has carried the baton over the years in order to get this legislation across the finish line today—this is a monumental occasion.”