Navajo, Hopi likely to be back in court on water rights

July 06, 2012

Navajo lawmakers have rejected a settlement that recognizes the tribe's rights to water from the Little Colorado River basin. From Phoenix, KJZZ's Steve Goldstein reports.

The tribal council voted 15-6 against the settlement on Thursday during a special session in Window Rock. Arizona Senator Jon Kyl had introduced legislation to approve the settlement but it needed the approval of the Navajo and Hopi tribes to move forward.

Kyl has said the settlement would address water needs on the reservations and provide certainty of the water supply for off-reservation communities. Under the settlement, the tribes would have waived further claims to the river basin if the federal government funded groundwater delivery projects.

Hopi lawmakers had approved the settlement but rejected Kyl's legislation. The Navajo vote against the settlement probably sends the tribes back to court to quantify water rights.

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