The requested resource (/media/ksut/header/pb/header.html) is not available
Last updated 10:57AM ET
December 17, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Ground Broken for $50M Pipeline in Farmington
(2008-09-11)
TOP: Navajo President Joe Shirley, Jr. addresses the groundbreaking audience.

MIDDLE: Shirley (far right) next to Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Robert Johnson and others break ground.

BOTTOM: Shirley and Johnson in a Navajo Engineering and Construction Authority backhoe.
(Photos: Victor Locke, KSUT)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: A 1988 water rights settlement for the two Ute Colorado tribes will soon send water to homes on part of the massive Navajo reservation in New Mexico.
Construction of the largest municipal water project ever for the Navajo's began today with a groundbreaking near Farmington.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

SHIRLEY: Y ' T' H, Y ' T' H EVERYBODY, I JUST WANT TO SAY GOOD MORNING TO EVERYBODY...
Navajo President Joe Shirley, Jr. welcomed the "by-invitation only" crowd of 50 or so to the blessing and groundbreaking for the Navajo Nation Municipal Pipeline project on the west side of Farmington.
The 50-million dollar, 30-mile pipeline will be constructed over the next two years between Farmington and Navajo lands near Shiprock.
Eventually, water stored in the larger 500-million dollar Animas LaPlata Water project's Nighthorse Reservoir 50-miles to the North in Durango, will flow down the Animas and San Juan Rivers to Farmington.
Farmington city will treat it then push it into the pipeline, delivering an estimated 47 hundred acre feet per year, enough to serve almost ten thousand homes which Shirley says are badly in need of water.
SHIRLEY: WE'RE CONNECTING THE VERY SACRED ELEMENT OF WATER TO MANY MORE OF OUR FAMILIES OUT THERE. I DON'T KNOW HOW MANY FAMILIES OUT THERE ARE HAULING WATER, OR HAVE BEEN FOR DECADES. MANY OF MY ELDERLY, OUR CHILDREN, ARE HURTING FOR WATER.
Navajo Tribal Council member and San Juan County New Mexico Commissioner GloJean Todocheene echoed Shirley's optimism over impact of bringing water to more of the Navajo reservation, the largest in the country.
TODOCHEENE: YOU KNOW, AS A LITTLE GIRL I CAN REMEMBER WHEN WE USED TO GET WATER FROM THE SPRING DOWN THE WASH. I GREW UP IN TWO GRAY HILLS AND THAT WATER USED TO SEEP RIGHT OUT OF THE GROUND. THESE NAVAJOS WITH THIS WATER PIPELINE, IT'S GOING TO OPEN UP A LOT OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES, HOUSING DEVELOPMENT, AND WHAT WE REALLY WANT ON THE NAVAJO RESERVATION IS OUR YOUNG PEOPLE TO COME BACK, BECAUSE WITH WATER, YOU KNOW, IT'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.
Animas LaPlata Project Construction Engineer Rick Ehat acknowledged that like ALP, the Navajo pipeline project has had its share of funding problems.
EHAT: ORIGINALLY WHEN ALP BEGAN CONSTRUCTION, THE NAVAJO NATION MUNICIPAL PIPELINE WAS SCHEDULED TO BEGIN SIMULTANEOUSLY. WE WERE NOT CAPABLE OF PROVIDING THE FUNDING THAT WOULD MAKE THAT HAPPEN.
But Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Robert Johnson, also on hand for the event, pledged:
JOHNSON: THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION IS COMMITTED TO FINISHING THIS PROJECT, AND WE ARE GOING TO CONTINUE TO SEEK THE FUNDING TO GET THIS PROJECT COMPLETED ON SCHEDULE AND ON BUDGET. AND I APPRECIATE THE NAVAJO NATION'S PATIENCE.
Not overlooked by Navajo President Shirley was the fact that ALP and the pipeline project were made possible by the 1988 Water Rights Settlement for the Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute tribes of Colorado.
SHIRLEY: IMPLEMENTING THEIR SETTLEMENT HAS BEEN A LONG PROCESS AND THE UTE LEADERSHIP HAS SHOWN THE FORTITUDE THAT WE'VE COME TO RESPECT. WE APPRECIATE THE UTE'S WORK AS THE NAVAJO NATION BEGINS TO FOLLOW A LONG PATH TOWARD RESOLVING ITS WATER RIGHTS IN THE REGION.
(SOUND)
Following the ceremony, Shirley, Johnson, Todocheene and others turned a ceremonial shovel full of dirt to mark the start of the pipeline as a backhoe gouged a bite out of the earth nearby.
The Animas LaPlata Project itself in Durango is nearing completion.
It's expected huge pumps across from Santa Rita Park in Durango will begin siphoning Animas River water two miles over a 550 foot ridge to fill Nighthorse Reservoir next Spring, with the reservoir expected to be full by 2011.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
© Copyright 2017, ksut