Tribes assert #water rights on #ColoradoRiver Basin: 1922 Colorado River Compact that divided resources between states left out Native Americans — The #Durango Herald #COriver #aridifcation

Lake Nighthorse and Durango March 2016 photo via Greg Hobbs.

Click the link to read the article on The Durango Herald website (Jim Mimiaga). Here’s an excerpt:

The Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute tribes of Southwest Colorado are fighting for water, including an effort to reclaim rights flowing downstream to other users. Ute Mountain Chairman Manuel Heart and Southern Ute Council member Lorelei Cloud presented their perspectives and plans for water management during a session of the Southwestern Water Conservation District’s annual meeting last week in Durango…

Native Americans did not gain U.S. citizenship until two years after the 1922 Colorado River Compact divided Colorado River water between upper and lower basins. Now, the 1922 compact is under review for water management changes in the mega-drought era and has a 2026 deadline for new interim guidelines. This time, tribes are asserting their water rights and demanding to be included in negotiations about how Colorado River Basin water is divided…

From the 2018 Tribal Water Study, this graphic shows the location of the 29 federally-recognized tribes in the Colorado River Basin. Map credit: USBR

Thirty tribes within the Colorado River Basin hold 25% of the water rights, but some of the water has not been available for use or has not been recognized as tribe-owned.

“When the laws were made, we were not included; we were an afterthought. We know (tribes) have 25% or more of that water,” Cloud said. “If tribes were to put that water to use, it will be a major impact for those downstream who have been using it for free. As tribes put our water to use, there will be less water down river.”

Cloud said the Southern Ute Tribe has 129,000 acre-feet per year of federally reserved water rights on seven rivers that run through its reservation, but it only has the capacity to divert 40,600 acre-feet per year. The tribe stores water in Vallecito, Lemon and Lake Nighthorse reservoirs…

Ute Mountain Ute Chairman Manuel Heart said his tribe is also continuing its fight for water rights. He is chairman of the 10 Tribe Partnership, a coalition of tribes working to protect their water rights and provide input on Colorado River Basin water management.

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