FARMINGTON – The Bureau of Reclamation is moving forward with negotiations with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority for the transfer of operations and maintenance for a portion of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project.
The project will divert roughly 37,376 acre-feet of water annually from the San Juan River Basin as part of the Navajo Nation’s San Juan River Basin Water Rights Settlement in 2009. According to the Bureau of Reclamation, inadequate water supply affects both the Jicarilla Apache and Navajo peoples to live and work, with over 40% of Navajo Nation households hauling water to meet daily needs. The Cutter Lateral portion of the project, supplied by the Cutter Reservoir near Bloomfield, is expected to be complete in spring 2020 and will provide water delivery to the Navajo and Jicarilla Apache nations.
But before construction finishes, terms on an operations and maintenance contract will need to be negotiated and transferred to the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, said Patrick Page, deputy construction engineer with the Bureau of Reclamation.
Although the design process for the full 280-mile pipeline project began in March 2009 and construction on the Cutter Lateral began in 2015, this will mark the first transfer from construction to completion. The Bureau of Reclamation is tasked with constructing the pipeline project, and when specific portions of the project are completed, operational responsibility is transferred to the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority. The next transfer involving the San Juan Lateral is expected in 2024, Page said.
“It’s a huge milestone; it marks the first delivery of project water,” he said.
Page said the negotiations will identify what is to be transferred, set the process for transfer inspections and lay out responsibilities and how the water will be delivered to users. The third public meeting to continue negotiating the operations and maintenance contract for the Cutter Lateral portion of the project will be Thursday in Fort Defiance, Arizona.