Span of Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project – explained by Rob Buss of Carollo Engineering

This morning December 8, we were pleased to welcome Dave Sobek from Corollo Engineers Phoenix to introduce Rob Buss a PE from their company that does work surrounding water issues with the Navajo Nation. Before heading out to another meeting, he pledged to Rex $5000 from the firm’s charitable arm Carollo Cares to help with our club’s Navajo Water Project. Thanks especially to Rex and Bridget for making and cultivating that connection for our club. Robert Buss is a 40-year resident of the Valley and graduated from the U of A. The firm’s involvement with the Navajo Nation came as a result of President Obama in 2009 signing the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act which freed up federal money for projects on the Navajo Nation, most especially sustainable water. When we think of groundwater, we think first of effluent treated at water plants and then wells in the ground to get water, which has been done since 1960.

The Navajo Nation is unique, it spans three states – Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, notable towns of which are Window Rock, Fort Defiance, Tuba City, Shiprock and Gallup. Within the nation there are overlays in three different basins – which are renewable through rainwater. The Navajo’s goal is to continue to grow their nation and water is vital to that growth. The agencies involved include the Federal Government, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service, the states of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Corps of Engineers, the Navajo Water Management branch and the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority.  Now that water rights to these various areas are either settled or being settled these projects can move forward under the various federal and government’s fiduciary commitment to Indian Nations.

The priorities continue to include housing, health, water and sanitation. The money has been appropriated for the Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project. 30% of households on the Navajo nation have no direct access to water, meaning they must haul water long distances. This groundwater is depleting rapidly and is of poor quality and inadequate for the needs of 43 Navajo Chapters, including Window Rock and Ft. Defiance in Arizona, the city of Gallup New Mexico and the Teepee Junction area of the Jicarilla Apache Nation.  The estimated cost to haul water is  $43,000/acre foot compared to $600/acre foot for urban water users. the map on the next page. This Project

Construction began in June 2012, on the project that will involve up to 600 jobs at peak. The goal is to divert 37,366 acre feet of water annually from the San Juan River Basin and convey it via approx. 280 miles of pipeline, several pumping plants, and two water treatment facilities. This water supply will support a future population of approx. 250,000 people by 2050.  April 1 2014, the Bureau of Reclamation awarded $19.6 million to build the first pumping plant for the Navajo Gallup project, Reach 22A in San Juan County was funded September of 2015 and in April of 2016 awarded the contract for construction of Reach 12B.  In September of 2016 two additional contracts were awarded for a water treatment plant along the Cutter Lateral Water and the second for construction of Reach 22B of the Cutter lateral.  We thank Rob for filling us in on their work as consultants to the Navajo Nation and also to Dave and everyone at Carollo Engineering for their generous gift to help us with our own project of solar operated cistern installations for the Navajo Nation Smith Lake Chapter in New Mexico.