Water project seeks approval to continue construction

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Navajo Nation

FARMINGTON — Members of the Resources and Development Committee are being asked to approve a right of way needed to construct the next section of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project.

Legislation seeking the authorization was introduced on April 11 by Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty, who represents three of the chapters in which the next portion will be built.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has been building the system section by section since June 2012. Work is underway for two separate branches, known as the San Juan Lateral and the Cutter Lateral.

When the entire project is completed in 2024, it will carry water from the San Juan River to 43 chapters on the Navajo Nation, the city of Gallup and the southwest part of the Jicarilla Apache Nation.

The bill proposes the committee approve a right of way for the federal agency to construct approximately 29 miles of the pipe in Naschitti, Sheep Springs, Newcomb, Two Grey Hills and Sanostee.

The pipe would run parallel to U.S. Highway 491 and within the boundaries of the five chapters.

The Resources and Development Committee has the authority to give final approval of all land withdrawals, non-mineral leases, permits, licenses, rights of way, surface easements and bonding requirements on tribal land and unrestricted land, according to tribal law.

Pat Page, the bureau's deputy construction engineer for the project, said the legislation is part of the process the agency has been following whenever a new section of the pipeline is proposed for construction.

The agency anticipates awarding the contract to build the 29-mile section in September. Construction is scheduled for November, with a completion goal of December 2021, Page said.

Meanwhile, construction on the portion from Twin Lakes to Naschitti is approximately 90 percent complete, he said.

He added that 25 out of 28.1 miles of pipe has been installed and construction is ahead of schedule.

"It's moving along nicely," Page said.

After that section is finished, miscellaneous valve work and testing will be completed.

Work on the Cutter Lateral is moving along as well, and the agency anticipates the first water delivery to occur in the middle of next year, he said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.