FREE POST: City Approves Settlement Agreement with Area Indigenous Nations and Tribes Over Regional Water Rights

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz – On Tuesday, July 2, the Flagstaff City Council approved the Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement Act of 2024. This landmark agreement resolves years of expensive and prolonged litigation over surface and groundwater rights claims involving the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, and the United States. The Settlement Agreement establishes certain water rights for the City of Flagstaff, other towns and communities, the Salt River Project, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, Arizona Public Service, various irrigation districts, ranching operations, and other stakeholders.

The agreement is currently being circulated among 39 parties for approval and has already received endorsements from the Councils of the involved Indigenous Nations and Tribes. It will next be presented to the United States Congress for approval and funding for Tribal water supply projects. In a letter supporting the proposed settlement legislation, Mayor Becky Daggett highlighted “a critical need for regional water supply projects in northeastern Arizona, not only for the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe, and the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, but also for the City of Flagstaff.”

The City’s Red Gap Ranch Regional Water Pipeline Project, still in its pre-planning phase, is related to the Resolution. The Settlement Agreement would enable the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe, in coordination with Arizona’s Department of Water Resources, Department of Transportation, and State Land Department, to access water and energy resources from the future project. The Resolution instructs city staff to seek funding for the project through cost-sharing initiatives, including federal programs.

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