Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project completion expected to move from 2024 to 2029
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation seeks facilities at the San Juan Generating Station for water delivery system
GALLUP — Completion of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is expected to move back a few years since the project intends to use facilities at the San Juan Generating Station for its future water delivery.
Members of a state legislative committee were told this week by a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation official that the bureau decided to use the existing system that intakes water from the San Juan River to help deliver water to the Navajo Nation and the City of Gallup once the pipeline is completed and operational.
Pat Page, manager of the Bureau's Four Corners Construction Office, explained that among the apparatuses that will be acquired are the diversion dam, pumping plant and reservoir.
The tribe is the primary beneficiary of the project through its water settlement for the San Juan River Basin in New Mexico. The project will also serve Gallup and the Jicarilla Apache Nation – through a separate lateral.
"The concept is that this will be a transmission line that will connect to existing distribution lines and systems on the Navajo reservation and the City of Gallup and will replace dwindling groundwater supply with clean, reliable surface water from the San Juan River basin," Page said.
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Extension of the project's completion date from 2024 to 2029 is due to upgrades of existing structures and construction at the site, he explained.
However, it is also viewed as a cost savings because the original plan was to build a new diversion system off an irrigation cancel downstream, Page added.
The bureau is continuing negotiations to acquire the facilities from the power plant's owners.
A separate discussion is happening with the City of Farmington and Enchant Energy because of their carbon capture proposal for the structure after the Public Service Company of New Mexico and others exit ownership.
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Enchant Energy CEO Cindy Crane mentioned the negotiation, stating it's ongoing, to committee members during a separate report about the San Juan Generating Station on July 13.
Page said the Navajo Nation and the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission support using the facilities for the project but the City of Gallup has expressed concerns over the impact the delay will have on residents. The bureau is working with Gallup to help reduce "these potential impacts."
According to a report distributed to legislative committee members, Gallup relies on groundwater from extremely deep aquifers and the city has built or acquired more than 45 wells over the years but only 15 wells remain in service today.
Marc DePauli with DePauli Engineering & Surveying, a civil engineering and land surveyor company in Gallup, has been working with the city on the project since 2000.
He told the committee that the pushing the timeline back is placing the city in a predicament over future water resources.
"We depended on that water supply to be here in 2024," DePauli said adding if the city continues relying on existing wells, it will have to dig deeper and the city cannot afford the expense.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at email@example.com.
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