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KANW is a member of the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration of public media stations that serves the Western states of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Our mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues across the Mountain West.From land and water management to growth in the expanding West to our unique culture and heritage, we'll explore the issues that define us and the challenges we face.

Mountain West tribes receive federal funds to secure reliable water supplies

An aerial view of the Pueblo of Laguna in the Rio San Jose Basin in northern New Mexico. The landscape is shades of brown and green.
Wikimedia Commons
The Pueblo of Laguna in the Rio San Jose Basin, pictured here, is one of the Indigenous communities in northern New Mexico still working to resolve water rights settlements.

The federal government is spending another $327 million to help fulfill water rights settlements with Native American tribes, including several in the Mountain West.

The money, which comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Reclamation Water Settlements Fund, will be used to create reliable water supplies for tribes, according to the Department of the Interior.

More than $160 million will fund a pipeline serving 43 Navajo chapters, the Teepee Junction area of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and the city of Gallup, New Mexico.

Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren spoke about the importance of the project at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee meeting this year.

“About 30% of the Navajo households continue to lack running water. They rely on hauling water to meet their daily needs,” Nygren said. “This region has long suffered from limited access to clean and reliable water.”

The 300-mile pipeline project would provide just that to a quarter-million people, he added.

Elsewhere in New Mexico, the Pueblos of Nambe, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso and Tesuque will receive $69 million to build a regional water system supplying treated water to Pueblo and non-Pueblo members.

In other parts of the Mountain West, $6 million is going to the Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho and the Southern Ute Tribe in Colorado is getting $3.4 million.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The photo included in this story is licensed under Wikimedia Commons.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.