Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project

photo: Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project logo

The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is a major infrastructure project that once constructed, will convey a reliable municipal and industrial water supply from the San Juan River to the eastern section of the Navajo Nation, southwestern portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and the city of Gallup, New Mexico via about 280 miles of pipeline, several pumping plants, and two water treatment plants.

These areas currently rely on a rapidly depleting groundwater supply that is of poor quality and inadequate to meet the current and future demands of more than 43 Navajo chapters, the city of Gallup, and the Teepee Junction area of the Jicarilla Apache Nation. Ground water levels for the city of Gallup have dropped approximately 200 feet over the past 10 years and over 40 percent of Navajo Nation households rely on hauling water to meet their daily needs. Inadequate water supply also impacts the ability of the Jicarilla Apache people to live and work outside the reservation town of Dulce.

The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is designed to provide a long-term sustainable water supply to meet the future population needs of approximately 250,000 people in these communities by the year 2040 through the annual delivery of 37,764 acre-feet of water from the San Juan Basin. The project’s eastern branch will divert approximately 4,645 acre-feet of water annually with no return flow to the San Juan River. The project’s western branch will divert the remaining 33,119 acre-feet of water with an anticipated average annual return flow of 1,871 acre-feet.

The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, Title X Part III (Public Law 111-11) signed on March 30, 2009, provided the authorization to construct this important project as a major component of the Navajo Nation San Juan River Basin Water Rights Settlement in New Mexico. The act requires that all project features are completed no later than December 31, 2024.

On October 11, the Obama Administration announced the selection of 14 infrastructure projects to be expedited through the permitting and environmental review process including the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project. The latest project status information can be accessed on the Priority Projects Dashboard site .

At-A-Glance

photo: Steel pipe installation - NGWSP
Steel pipe installation - NGWSP
  • The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project will provide a reliable long-term municipal and industrial water supply to the eastern section of the Navajo Nation, southwestern portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and the city of Gallup, New Mexico.
  • These areas currently rely on rapidly depleting groundwater of poor quality and inadequate to meet current and future demands of more than 43 Navajo chapters including fort Defiance and Window Rock in Arizona, the city of Gallup, New Mexico, and the Teepee Junction area of the Jicarilla Apache Nation.
  • The project will divert 37,376 acre-feet of water annually from the San Juan River Basin and convey it via approximately 280 miles of pipeline, several pumping plants, and two water treatment plants.
  • This water supply will support a future population of approximately 250,000 people by the year 2040.
  • The project was authorized for construction by the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-11) on March 30, 2009 as a major component of the Navajo Nation San Juan River Basin Water Rights Settlement in New Mexico.
  • The legislation requires the completion of all project feature construction no later than December 31, 2024.
  • Based on October 2011 prices, the total indexed construction cost estimate for the project is approximately $995,000,000. P.L. allows for future indexing of costs based upon engineering indices.
  • The Claims Resolution Act (P. L. 111-291) provides access to up to $60 million in mandatory funding for the project in each of fiscal years 2012, 2013, and 2014. The mandatory funding is designated for several water rights settlements of which NGWSP is the first priority (in accordance with P.L. 111-11). In addition, $24.8 million was requested in the President’s fiscal year 2012 request.
  • The start of project construction is dependent on completion of various permitting, land acquisition, and contract activities and is scheduled to begin in 2012.
  • As one of the 14 infrastructure projects identified by the Obama Administration to be expedited through the permitting and environmental review process, Reclamation is working with federal, non-federal, and Tribal entities to facilitate construction activities as soon as possible.
  • Once project construction begins, it is anticipated that between 400-450 jobs will be created. As the project reaches the peak of construction activities, it is anticipated that a total of 600-650 jobs will have been created.
  • The overall project schedule is determined by the Project Construction Committee consisting of representatives from Reclamation, city of Gallup, Navajo Nation, Jicarilla Apache Nation, and state of New Mexico. The project schedule is driven by funding provided through Congress and state of New Mexico.
  • In addition to Reclamation, the city of Gallup, Navajo Nation, and Indian Health Service will simultaneously perform design and construction tasks for various project reaches under their own authorities in accordance with financial assistance agreements with Reclamation.

Additional Information

News Releases

Authorization Background

The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project was authorized for construction by the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, Title X Part III (Public Law 111-11 on March 30, 2009) as a major component of the Navajo Nation San Juan River Basin Water Rights Settlement in New Mexico.

This act authorized the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation to construct, operate, and maintain the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project in substantial accordance with the preferred alternative outlined in the Planning Report / Final Environmental Impact Statement.

The PR/FEIS was one of several prerequisites specified in the legislation that had to be completed prior to initiating construction of the project. In addition to completion of the PR/FEIS and associated record of decision, a water rights settlement agreement and settlement contract with the Navajo Nation had to be executed, as well as a cost-share agreement with the state of New Mexico, and required repayment contracts with project beneficiaries.

Reclamation completed the PR/FEIS in July 2009 and the ROD was signed by the Secretary of the Interior on October 1, 2009, approving Reclamation’s selection of the preferred alternative described in the PR/FEIS The Navajo San Juan Water Rights Settlement Agreement among the United States, Navajo Nation, and state of New Mexico was executed on December 17, 2010, and the Settlement Contract between Reclamation and the Navajo Nation was executed on the same date. These historic agreements represent a significant milestone in fulfilling long-outstanding water rights claims of the Navajo Nation while protecting existing water uses and providing for future growth within the amount of water apportioned to New Mexico by the Colorado River Compact.

The remaining precedent to construction agreements are currently in the process of being completed which will clear the way for Reclamation to begin construction on the project.

Additional Information

History

The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project has a long history dating back over four decades. Throughout that time, a number of proposals have been studied to deliver water from the San Juan River and other sources of water to communities in the Navajo Nation and to the city of Gallup.

In December 1971, Public Law 92-199 provided specific authority to conduct feasibility studies for the “Gallup Project, New Mexico” culminating in a reconnaissance report dated October 1973.

photo: topography survey work
Topography survey work for pipeline alignment design

A second study was completed in January 1984 that included expanded service to Navajo communities as well as to the city of Gallup based on a 1975 request by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority to include municipal and domestic water supplies for various Navajo communities in the eastern part of the Navajo Reservation.

In September 1986, an appraisal-level estimate for a system with a main transmission line along Highway 371 was completed followed by completion in November 1993 of an appraisal-level study was conducted to deliver water from the Gallegos Reservoir, a planned feature of the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project.  Planning activities for the study were directed by a steering committee chaired by the Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments with representatives from the Navajo Nation, city of Gallup, New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Reclamation. The Jicarilla Apache Nation later joined as a project participant.

By 2000, five viable alternatives for the project had been developed and were evaluated in a draft planning report / draft environmental impact statement published in March 2007. The Final Planning Report/Final Environmental Impact Statement was filed with the Environmental Protection Agency on July 6, 2009, and the report was distributed to the public on the same date. The record of decision was signed on October 1, 2009.

With the signing of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, (Public Law 111-11) signed on March 30, 2009 Reclamation was authorized to construct the project pending completion of the FEIS and signed ROD; execution of a water rights settlement agreement and settlement contract with the Navajo Nation; execution of a cost-share agreement with the state of New Mexico; and execution of required repayment contracts with project beneficiaries.

The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project has evolved as a major infrastructure initiative to supply approximately 250,000 people approximately 37,800 acre-feet of municipal and industrial water per year by 2040.

Project History Timeline

  • 1971 — Public Law 92-199 provided specific authority to conduct feasibility studies for the "Gallup Project, New Mexico" which culminated in a reconnaissance report in October 1973.
  • 1975 — At the request of the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, the Gallup water supply study be expanded to include municipal and domestic water supplies for various Navajo communities in the eastern portion of the Navajo Reservation.
  • 1984 — A Planning Report and Draft Environmental Statement were released for public review and public hearings were conducted.
  • 1986 — Reclamation prepared the "Gallup-Navajo Indian Water Supply Project, New Mexico-Arizona Technical Report" which evaluated five alternatives for providing water to Navajo communities and the city of Gallup.
  • 1988 — Progress on the project stalled for a variety of reasons following a change in leadership for both the Navajo Nation and city of Gallup. Reclamation funding for project studies were suspended as a result.
  • 1993 — Planning activities for the project resumed with write-in funding from Reclamation's general budget and cost share from project participants. Planning activities were directed by a steering committee chaired by the Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments with representatives from the Navajo Nation, city of Gallup, New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Reclamation. The Jicarilla Apache Nation later joined as a project participant.
  • 2000 — Public scoping meetings were held in Crownpoint, Gallup, Shiprock, and Farmington, N.M., and Saint Michaels Ariz., in the spring to present the five viable project alternatives that had been developed.
  • 2007 — A draft planning report/environmental impact statement containing the five viable alternatives was published and public meetings were held at the same five locations in May and June.
  • 2009
    • March — President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Land Management act of 2009 (Public Law 111-11) authorizing among other things, the construction of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project subject to the completion of several prerequisite agreements
    • June — The first Project Pre-Construction Committee meeting was held which included representatives of Reclamation, Navajo Nation, city of Gallup, Jicarilla Apache Nation, and the state of New Mexico
    • July — The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project Final Environmnental Impact Statement/Planning Report was filed with the Environmental Protection Agency and dsitributed publicly.
    • October — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed the record of decision for the NGWSP FEIS/PR.
  • 2010 — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Navajo Nation President Joe Shirely signed the San Juan River Basin in New Mexico, Navajo Nation Water Rights Settlement Agreement on December 17, 2010 (New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson signed the agreement one week earlier). Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor and Navajo Nation President Shirely signed the Navajo Nation Settlement Contract on the same date.
  • 2011
    • June —The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project cost-share agreement between Reclamation and the state of New Mexico was executed.
    • August — President Obama isusued a memorandum instructing federal agencies to accelerate the pace of major infrastructure projects through improved efficiencies in permitting and environmental review processes, to enhance accountability and transparency of federal actions. The NGWSP was selected as one of 14 federal infrastructure projects to be expedited.
    • November — A water service contract between the Jicarilla Apache Nation and the city of Gallup to provide the city with up to 7,500 acre-feet of water annually was approved.
  • 2012
    • January — The repayment contract between Reclamation and the city of Gallup was executed on January 10.
    • April — The repayment contract between Reclamation and the Jicarilla Apache Nation was executed on April 12, and the first project construction contract for $10.75 million for Reach 12A was awarded to McMillen, LLC.
    • June — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Navajo Nation President Shirley and other distinguished dignitaries broke ground for Reach 12A construction at a ceremony on June 2.

For questions or comments, contact

Patrick Page
Deputy Construction Engineer
Bureau of Reclamation, Four Corners Construction Office
1235 La Plata Highway
Farmington, NM 87401
(505) 324-5027
ppage@usbr.gov

Last Updated: 6/10/19