MONUMENT VALLEY, Utah (ABC4) – Residents in Navajo Nation tell ABC4 they have some concerns with water allocation. This comes after U.S. Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland, Governor Spencer Cox, and Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez announced Friday an official settlement for water rights.
Natalynn Young lives on the Utah side of the Navajo Nation. She says only recently her home was equipped with electricity and water.
“We have a generator or we have solar panels like we have to go to the gas station and fill up the tank and fill the generators or we go without electricity,” she says.
But nearly half of the people living here don’t have the infrastructure that sends water to their properties and it’s affecting their livelihoods.
“Since we don’t have readily access to water, we haven’t planted, we still have to haul water for the animals, but it’s a really long process,” says Young.
Residents have to find their nearest watering hose, then they have to haul it, sometimes for miles all while awaiting approval for water lines, which takes years.
“If you don’t have access to water, then you have to haul water, and our water place is up there, and there’s like long lines,” she says.
The Nation was waiting for this water rights settlement for nearly 20 years after an ongoing battle with the Utah and federal government.
“But we also had AARPA come in and we had to make some decisions on getting water lines planned out throughout this area, and this agreement has been put in place we are going to interconnect them and see how many people in this region we can get water to,” says Navajo Nation President, Jonathan Nez.
Nez says federal regulations slow and sometimes hinder development on the reservation.
“We developed a white paper here on the Navajo Nation so that we can update some of the federal policies and regulations and even laws so that Navajo could get projects done a lot quicker,” says Nez.
Nez says he’s hoping with the help of Haaland, approval for infrastructure can come locally and quickly. Residents say they can only hope changes are made sooner, rather than later, as many generations have yet to experience water security.