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Supporting Tribal Nations

Contact: Dan DuBray, 202-513-0574


In FY 2015, Reclamation will enhance support of tribal nations, most notably through the establishment of an Indian Water Rights Settlement account. Further, in FY 2015, Reclamation continues to undertake a variety of other water-related activities to support Tribal Nations. These activities include projects and actions to implement Indian water rights settlements, technical assistance to tribes, and ecosystem restoration and rural water projects with a tribal nexus. A summary of the Indian Water Rights Settlements account and a list of other projects and programs benefiting Tribes follow.

Indian Water Rights Settlements Account and Projects:

The FY 2015 Budget proposes $90.0 million for Indian Water Rights Settlements (IWRS), in a new account of the same name. This represents a significant increase (14% or $11.3 million) from the FY 2013 enacted level of $78.661 million for the same projects. Of this amount, $9.0 million is for implementation of four water rights settlements contained in the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-291). In FY 2015, funding priority was given to those settlements whose mandated completion dates would be most in jeopardy without it.

Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act (MT)

Title IV of the Act provides for two major construction projects and provides $219.8 million of mandatory funds and authorizes $158.4 million of discretionary funds for their construction.

In FY 2015, $2 million is requested for the Crow settlement.

Taos Pueblo Indian Water Rights Act (NM)

Title V of the Act authorizes the transfer of $16 million in mandatory funds, and authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of the Interior an additional $20 million for deposit into a non-interest bearing Taos Settlement Fund between fiscal years 2011 and 2016. Reclamation will then provide financial assistance in the form of grants on a non-reimbursable basis to eligible non-Pueblo entities to plan, permit, design, engineer, and construct Mutual-Benefit Projects in accordance with the Settlement Agreement. In FY 2015, $4 million is requested under the Taos settlement.

Aamodt Litigation Settlement Act (NM)

Title VI of the Act authorizes: (1) the Aamodt Litigation Settlement Agreement; (2) construction of the Pojoaque Basin Regional Water System (RWS); (3) acquisition of water rights; and (4) establishment of the Aamodt Settlement Pueblos’ Fund, totaling $62.5 million. The Act provided $56.4 million in mandatory funding and authorized $50 million in appropriations for the construction of the RWS. The settlement serves the Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, and Tesuque Pueblos Tribes. Under the Aamodt settlement, $3 million is requested in FY 2015.

White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Rights Quantification Act (AZ)

Title III of the Act provided $152.7 in mandatory funds and $16.0 million in discretionary funding for the construction of a Rural Water System which is planned to begin in FY 2017. For the construction of the Rural Water System, the White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Rights Quantification Act is authorized to use the mandatory funds which were made available under the Act. No funding for this settlement is being requested in FY 2015; the Act authorizes the further use of discretionary funds for “Cost Overruns” (section 310(a)), but Reclamation does not need this funding right away.

Together, the four Indian water rights settlements will provide permanent water supplies and offer economic security for the tribes and pueblos described above. The agreements will build and improve reservation water systems, rehabilitate irrigation projects, construct a regional multi-pueblo water system, and codify water-sharing arrangements between Indian and neighboring communities.

Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project (NM, AZ)

In addition to the four Claims Resolution Act Settlements, Reclamation is also requesting $81.0 million for the implementation of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, authorized by the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-11). This project is a key element of the Navajo Nation Water Rights Settlement on the San Juan River (NM). This project will provide a reliable and sustainable municipal, industrial, and domestic water supply from the San Juan River to 43 Chapters of the Navajo Nation including the Window Rock, AZ area; the city of Gallup, NM; the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry; and the southwest portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation Reservation. All of these entities rely on a rapidly declining groundwater supply that is inadequate to meet present and projected needs to year 2040. As part of the major infrastructure project, Reclamation is authorized to construct, operate and maintain this water supply system to meet these projected demands. This project, which is expected to be completed in 2024, is one of the Administration’s high priority infrastructure projects and will now be on a path to meet settlement requirements over the next decade.

Projectsin the Water and related Resources Account:

Animas-La Plata Project (CO, NM)

The Animas-La Plata Project request of $2.5 million for FY 2015 includes funding for continued life cycle operation and maintenance of facilities as well as the associated wetland and wildlife mitigation lands.

Nez Perce/Columbia-Snake River Salmon Recovery (ID, OR, WA)

The FY 2015 budget requests $17 million for salmon recovery, of which $5.2 million is in support of the Nez Perce Water Rights Settlement. Reclamation acquires up to 487,000 acre-feet of water from willing sellers for Snake River flow augmentation under the Upper Snake Irrigation Projects Biological Opinion and to meet Reclamation obligations under the Nez Perce Water Rights Settlement. In addition, this program supports actions required by Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries biological opinions on operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS). The NOAA Fisheries 2014 FCRPS Biological Opinion was issued in response to litigation and represents collaboration with States and Tribes in the Columbia River Basin. This 2014 FCRPS Supplemental BiOp requires extensive actions to ensure that operation of the FCRPS by the agencies is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of endangered or threatened species, or to adversely modify or destroy their designated critical habitats. Reclamation actions include modifications to hydro system operations, and specific actions to improve tributary habitat and hatcheries for salmon and steelhead. Reclamation, along with the other action agencies, entered into multiple 10-year memoranda of agreement with three states and seven tribes to support the FCRPS BiOp; this program funds Reclamation actions included in those agreements. In total, 13 species of anadromous salmon and steelhead have been listed by NOAA Fisheries and two non-anadromous species (Kootenai River white sturgeon and bull trout) have been listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Columbia River Basin that could be affected by operation of the FCRPS.

Arizona Water Settlements Act

The Secretary of the Interior is required to deliver annually up to 16,000 acre feet of Central Arizona Project water to the Schuk Toak District and 50,000 acre feet of water to the San Xavier District of the Tohono O’Odham Nation (Nation) at no cost to the Nation or Districts. The Secretary is also required to deliver annually up to 311,800 acre-feet of Central Arizona Project water to the Gila River Indian Community (Community). The Act established the Lower Colorado River Basin Development Fund (Development Fund) as the funding source to pay the Central Arizona Project fixed Operation, Maintenance and Replacement cost to deliver this water supply and to fund the obligation to construct settlement approved infrastructure for the Nation and the Community. The Development Fund is also available to meet many other obligations established by the Act. Reclamation was allowed to begin using the Development Fund to meet these obligations beginning in calendar year 2010. (There is no FY 2015 President’s Budget Request for this project.)

Ak-Chin Indian Water Rights Settlement Act Project

The Ak-Chin Settlement Act facilitates delivery of Colorado River water through the Central Arizona Project to 16,000 acres of irrigated lands on the Ak-Chin Indian Reservation. The Act requires that this water be delivered at no cost to the Ak-Chin Community. The FY 2015 request of $14.1 million continues the operation and maintenance functions and repairs to the delivery canal associated with the delivery of 89,500 acre-feet of Central Arizona Project water to the Ak-Chin Community.

Native American Affairs Program

The request includes $8.1 million for the Native American Affairs Program to continue support of Reclamation activities with Indian Tribes. These activities include providing technical support for Indian water rights settlements; assisting tribal governments to develop, manage, and protect their water and related resources; and supporting Indian self-governance and self-determination programs.


There are a number of other Reclamation projects that also support Tribal Nations: the Trinity River Restoration Program, (CA), Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project (WA) and portions of other projects such as Klamath, Yakima, and Lahontan Basin. Additionally, rural water projects provide significant support: the Fort Peck Reservation/Dry Prairie Rural Water System (MT), the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin’s Garrison Diversion Unit (ND), the Rocky Boys/North Central Montana Rural Water System (MT), and the Mni Wiconi Project (SD).