The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support clean drinking water for Native communities
Farmington, N.M. – The Bureau of Reclamation today announced a nearly $67 million contract award under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to SJ Louis Construction Inc., of Rockville, Minnesota, to provide potable water to the Navajo communities and the city of Gallup in northwest New Mexico. This work is part of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project and will fulfill both current and future demands for water in these communities.
“This continued progress and important work being done on the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project demonstrates the Department of the Interior’s commitment to providing clean, reliable drinking water to rural and Tribal communities,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Gary Gold. “Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Bureau of Reclamation is able to leverage historic investments to help develop municipal and industrial water supply projects, expanding access to clean water and safeguarding communities in the face of unprecedented drought.”
The contract award was announced by Gold, Reclamation Deputy Commissioner Michael Brain and Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Operations Mathew Maucieri today as they toured the project.
“This contract continues many years of hard work by Reclamation, the Navajo Nation and other project partners working on the NGWSP,” said Deputy Commissioner Brain. “The work being done here to bring a reliable drinking water system to these tribal communities and the surrounding rural communities is of the utmost importance.”
“With the completion of the Cutter Lateral, we have seen firsthand the many ways this clean, reliable water source has begun to improve the lives of residents and provide opportunities for economic development and job creation,” said Reclamation NGWSP Project Manager Bart Deming of the Upper Colorado Basin Region. “This pipeline is a critical component of the San Juan Lateral, which when complete, will be able to provide similar improvements and opportunities on the west side of the project with water deliveries scheduled to begin in 2028.”
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $8.3 billion for Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure projects over the next 5 years and another $2.5 billion for authorized water rights settlement projects to support Tribal communities access to water.
The NGWSP consists of two main pipeline systems: the San Juan Lateral and the Cutter Lateral. This contract award is for Reaches 4A and 4B, which are pipelines that begin at the San Juan Lateral Water Treatment Plant, within the Navajo Hogback Chapter, and end at the Tó Ałts’íísí Pumping Plant in the Sanostee Chapter, entirely within San Juan County in New Mexico.
The Cutter Lateral is already delivering water to Navajo homes and businesses, and with construction of the San Juan Lateral now more than 50% finished, this contract continues progress toward meeting the United States’ obligation to the Navajo Nation under the Navajo Water Rights Settlement on the San Juan River Basin in New Mexico.
Reach 4A will be a 7-mile pipeline that begins at the San Juan Lateral Water Treatment Plant extending south to the Tsé Da’azkání Pumping Plant. Reach 4B will be a 10.9-mile pipeline beginning at the Tsé Da’azkání Pumping Plant extending south to the Tó Ałts’íísí Pumping Plant. Work under this contract is anticipated to begin this month and construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2023. Construction on the pumping plants is under a separate contract, with groundbreaking scheduled to begin this year.
The NGWSP is a major infrastructure project to convey water to meet the demands of 43 Navajo chapters, the southwest area of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and the city of Gallup, which currently rely on a rapidly depleting groundwater supply of poor quality. Approximately 40% of families in these Indigenous communities currently haul drinking water to their homes on a regular basis, and this project will provide a reliable and more sustainable water supply to help improve living conditions.
Full project completion is planned for 2029. When complete, it will include approximately 300 miles of pipeline, two water treatment plants, 19 pumping plants and multiple water storage tanks. Construction on the Cutter Lateral pipeline system was completed in spring 2022 and water deliveries are currently being made to eight Navajo communities and soon to the southwestern portion of the Jicarilla Apache Reservation, serving 6,000 people or 1,500 households.
For more information about the NGWSP, visit: https://www.usbr.gov/uc/progact/navajo-gallup/index.html
For information about the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments, visit: https://www.usbr.gov/bil/