A $1.13 billion construction project to provide treated water to remote areas of the Navajo Nation, Jicarilla-Apache Nation, and city of Gallup continues to make progress.
The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply project is being built as part of the 2010 Navajo Nation Water Rights Settlement Act on the San Juan River Basin.
Construction began in 2013, with completion estimated for 2024. It is being built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, city of Gallup, Navajo Nation, and Indian Health Service.
Diversions from the San Juan River, Navajo Reservoir and Cutter Reservoir will supply two main laterals serving reservation communities currently lacking treated drinking water. It will also provide Gallup with a more reliable municipal water source.
The project entails 300 miles of pipe, two water treatment plants, storage tanks, 24 pumping stations and overhead electrical transmission lines.
“Overall, it is going very well and we are making steady progress,” said Marlon Duke, public affairs officer for the Bureau of Reclamation. “We have awarded several contracts this year.”
This fall, Reclamation awarded a $37 million contract to CH2M for water treatment plant south of Bloomfield along the project’s Cutter Lateral. The plant will have a total capacity of 5.4 million gallons per day.
Work will also include construction of a pumping plant, 500,000 gallon regulating tank, and maintenance building.
Also this fall, Reclamation awarded a second contract valued at $29.3 million to Moltz Constructors Inc. for construction of Reach 22B of the Cutter Lateral. The project will consist of 16 miles of 24-inch diameter pipe and two pumping plants, and will connect the water treatment plant with the Cutter Reservoir water supply.
“It is on target to deliver water in 2019,” Duke said. “We appreciate the collaborative work with the Jicarilla tribe who will receive some of the water.”
The project will deliver water to the southwest boundary of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, then the tribe will construct facilities to points of use on their reservation, including the area around the Apache Nugget Casino.
The San Juan lateral will draw water from a new pumping plant on the San Juan River east of Shiprock and into a nearby new water treatment plant.
The water will then be piped south along U.S. 491, serving the Navajo Nation and Gallup. Reclamation is currently constructing the Tohlaki pump station and lateral Reach 12B of the San Juan lateral north of Gallup.
“A lot of families on the reservation are still hauling water, and we are excited to play a role to provide sustainable clean water to these communities. It’s a big deal,” Duke said.
At the request of the Navajo Nation, work on the San Juan Lateral has begun on the southern portion. Completing the pipeline in this area allows Navajo communities to receive water from wells. The interim use of groundwater is expected to arrive in 2017, versus having to wait until the pipeline from the San Juan River is completed in 2024.
Construction on the San Juan Lateral Water Treatment Plant south of the diversion point, will begin in 2020.
Project construction is well underway on several fronts. As of Sept. 30, a total of $343.5 million has been obligated toward construction.
The Navajo-Gallup water project diverts about 36,000 acre-feet of water per year from the San Juan River, and 4,645 acre-feet per year from Cutter Reservoir, which is fed by Navajo reservoir.
Based on the expected populations in the year 2040, the project would serve approximately 203,000 people in 43 chapters in the Navajo Nation, 1,300 people in the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and about 47,000 people in the city of Gallup.
“Vital infrastructure is a key focus for President (Barack) Obama and we’re proud of the monumental work being accomplished,” said Reclamation Commissioner Estevan Lopez.