Project tour group look over the construction site of the
Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Pipeline at Twin Lakes, N.M. on June 29, 2018
Published July 3, 2018
GALLUP, N.M. – The Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission hosted community members and chapter officials to the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project (Project) tour. On Friday June 29, the group toured the Tohlakai Pumping Plant and visited pipeline construction sites.
The Water Rights Commission is working to educate the people about Navajo water rights and projects such as Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project. The project is part of the San Juan River water rights settlement between the Navajo Nation, the State of New Mexico and the U.S. Department of Interior.
US Bureau of Reclamation Project Construction
Engineer, Barry Longwell, points to future pipeline
construction locations at the Tohlakai Pumping Plant.
Commission Chair, Benjamin Cowboy welcomed the visitors who were gathered at the pumping plant. He told the group; the commission is excited about the project and wants people to know as much as possible.
“This is a major infrastructure project, maybe the biggest the Navajo Nation ever does. It’s for the future of Navajo people,” explained Cowboy. “This tour is an opportunity for the community to ask questions and take the information back to their communities.”
United States Bureau of Reclamation’s (Reclamation) Project Construction Engineer, Barry Longwell who manages Reclamation’s Four Corners Office, shared some history regarding the project as part of the San Juan River settlement and used an enlarged map to show where the pipelines are being built.
“The biggest component of the Navajo water settlement is by far the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project,” explained Longwell. “Our current cost estimate is somewhere north of $1.1 billion for the project. In terms of what the project consists of, basically we are bringing water to 43 chapters on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico.”
The group also visited the pipeline construction site at Twin Lakes, N.M. According to Longwell, although Reclamation is administering procurement of construction services under the Federal Acquisition Regulations, contractors are required to follow tribal employment laws such as the Navajo Preference in Employment Act. The contractors are currently recruiting qualified Navajo workers.
After the tour concluded, Little Rock Chapter, Secretary Treasurer, June Bovo said it was interesting; she had never toured a water treatment pumping plant before. She was happy to find out that her chapter will get water by the year 2020 and that the project will be completed by the year 2024.
Presidential candidate, Tom Tso of Teec Nos Pos, Ariz. said he enjoyed the tour and he was thankful for the project. He said, “I think [the people] need to be very, very grateful for the settlement and the services, meaning the water that will be delivered.”
The Water Rights Commission encouraged all people to learn more about the project and Navajo water rights. Cowboy told the visitors, “We want to be a resource for our leaders and candidates, so feel free to reach out to us for updates and questions.”