Feds want justices to end Navajo fight for #ColoradoRiver #water — The Washington Post #COriver #aridification

On a day in late May [2022] when wildfire smoke obscured the throat of an ancient volcano called Shiprock in the distance, I visited the Ute Mountain Ute farming and ranching operation in the southwestern corner of Colorado. Photo credit: Allen Best/Big Pivots

Click the link to read the article on The Washington Post website (Michael Phillips). Here’s an except:

More than 150 years ago, the U.S. government and the tribe signed treaties that promised the tribe a “permanent home” — a promise the Navajo Nation says includes a sufficient supply of water. The tribe says the government broke its promise to ensure the tribe has enough water and that people are suffering as a result. The federal government disputes that claim. And states, such as Arizona, California and Nevada, argue that more water for the Navajo Nation would cut into already scarce supplies for cities, agriculture and business growth…

The high court will hold oral arguments Monday in a case with critical implications for how water from the drought-stricken Colorado River is shared and the extent of the U.S. government’s obligations to Native American tribes. A win for the Navajo Nation won’t directly result in more water for the roughly 175,000 people who live on the largest reservation in the U.S. But it’s a piece of what has been a multi-faceted approach over decades to obtain a basic need…

DigDeep, which filed a legal brief in support of the Navajo Nation’s case, has worked to help tribal members gain access to water as larger water-rights claims are pressed…

Installing pipe along the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project. Photo credit: USBR

Extending water lines to the sparsely populated sections of the 27,000 square-mile (69,000 square-kilometer) reservation that spans three states is difficult and costly. But tribal officials say additional water supplies would help ease the burden and create equity.

“You drive to Flagstaff, you drive to Albuquerque, you drive to Phoenix, there is water everywhere, everything is green, everything is watered up,” said Rex Kontz, deputy general manager of the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority. “You don’t see that on Navajo.”


For decades, the Navajo Nation has fought for access to surface water, including the Colorado River and its tributaries, that it can pipe to more remote locations for homes, businesses and government offices.

Many Indian reservations are located in or near contentious river basins where demand for water outstrips supply. Map courtesy of the Bureau of Reclamation.

3 thoughts on “Feds want justices to end Navajo fight for #ColoradoRiver #water — The Washington Post #COriver #aridification

  1. “Everything is watered and green, you don’t see that on the Navajo,” and that should be used as an example. I’m disgusted and appalled at the flagrant use and abuse of water. For one, there are pivots in this photo. Pivots should be banned. They waster nearly 88%!! Of the water coming through the pipes. Tradional asecia and ditches are the best way to water in Southern Colorado. I live in Costilla County, and it sickens me watching the water evaporate before it touches the ground. Southern coloradonis high arid desert with an average of humidity of 5-10%. Hopefully, the Navajos won’t take on the mantel of the white man’s wasteful waterways.

    1. Thanks for commenting.

      Flood irrigation does indeed have its advantages and acequia organizations are a great way to share a limited resource. But sprinklers also have advantages. The key is to stop climate change so that the SW U.S. is not chasing an ever decreasing supply.

      Also, the Navajo Tribe in entitled to water from the Colorado River System and like any diverter they can utilize it as they see fit.

      John Orr

      John Orr

      1. I’ve never seen a good use for pivots unless they are in an area with high humidity. But I’ve always farmed (we’re talking less than an acre) in the Southwest. Water had always been a precious resource and needed for all life. I recall a quote from the movie “Black Falcon” about the oil race in the Middle East less than 120 years ago. He says to his son, “That is crying…”Do not cry, son, it is a sin to waste the water and salt.” (Give or take).

        While the ultimate goal is to adapt our lives to the global change that is here and has been for nearly 15 years, we must guard what little water we have.

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