Bishop Leads Major Navajo Water Rights Deal
In January, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Rep. Rob Bishop (UT-01) introduced H.R. 644, the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act of 2019. The bill is the result of a multi-year collaborative effort by Bishop, along with the state of Utah and the Navajo Nation.
This week, the subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife held a hearing where various stakeholders appeared as witnesses to testify in favor of the Bishop legislation. Witnesses included Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Natural Resources Division Chief Norm Johnson from the Utah Attorney General’s office.
Following the hearing, Bishop said, “This agreement has been a long time coming. During the development of this settlement, a great number of stakeholders have come together to get this right. My thanks to Navajo Nation President Nez and Governor Herbert, as well as Senator Romney for agreeing to shepherd this through the Senate.”
In written testimony, Navajo Nation President Nez stated he, “… wish[ed] to convey the gratitude of the Navajo Nation to Rep. Rob Bishop … and the cosponsors of this legislation for their support and leadership in ensuring that the Navajo People in southeastern Utah have the basic, modern convenience of running water.”
On behalf of the state of Utah, Mr. Johnson wrote, “I am especially grateful to Representative Bishop for sponsoring the bill …” Johnson added, “ … we have worked hard to comply with the criteria that Rep. Bishop wisely developed to ensure that settlements are a net benefit to the U.S. taxpayer and have the support of the administration.” Johnson further noted, “that the money provided under the settlement will be used to fund drinking water projects on the Nation, which will improve the living conditions for Utah citizens who are also citizens of the [Navajo] Nation. At the present time, many Utah Navajos lack the basic necessity of safe, clean drinking water. This bill will help construct the infrastructure needed to improve their living condition.”