Flake, McCain Introduce Major Arizona Water Settlement Bill

Sens. John McCain, left, and Jeff Flake speak in support of their bill to settle a water dispute between Freeport Minerals and the Hualapai tribe. McCain said they are willing to work with anyone who has concerns over the bill. / Julianne DeFilippi.jpg
Sens. John McCain, left, and Jeff Flake speak in support of their bill to settle a water dispute between Freeport Minerals and the Hualapai tribe. McCain said they are willing to work with anyone who has concerns over the bill. / Julianne DeFilippi.

Agreement delivers greater certainty for Arizona water users and economic opportunities for the Hualapai Tribe

NEWS RELEASE

(Editor’s note: News releases are published unedited, unless they contain factual errors.)

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) today introduced S.3300, The Hualapai Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act, to settle the water rights claims of the Hualapai Tribe. The major water settlement bill will deliver a greater degree of certainty for water users throughout Arizona and provide the Hualapai Tribe with opportunities for economic growth.

Specifically, this bill would ratify a settlement agreement negotiated between the Hualapai Tribe, the State of Arizona, and several water providers in the state. Under the agreement, the Hualapai Tribe would have Colorado River rights equal to those of other water users. In addition, the tribe would no longer have unquantified water rights to the Colorado and Verde Rivers and would instead accept 4,000 acre-feet per year of water from the Colorado River. Having this agreement in place would ensure that the tribe’s previously outstanding water claims could not potentially displace water used to serve 5 million water customers that also rely on the Colorado and Verde Rivers.

As a result of the settlement, the Hualapai Tribe will receive authorization for infrastructure projects that would provide a reliable water source at Grand Canyon West and Peach Springs to help create economic growth for the tribe and in the surrounding area. Currently, Grand Canyon West employs approximately 300 tribal members and 300 non- tribal members and attracts over 1,000,000 visitors annually.

“This landmark settlement keeps Arizona on the path of proactive water management needed to avert a shortage in Lake Mead and maintain reliable access to water throughout the state,” said Flake. “I am especially pleased that in settling this claim, the Hualapai Tribe will finally gain the ability to put its water right to use and grow its economy.”

“Completing the Hualapai Tribe’s water settlement is a top priority of the tribe and I’m pleased to cosponsor this legislation. It will help put the tribe on a path towards safeguarding their water supplies while growing their local economy,” said McCain.

On Sept. 14, 2016 the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will hold a hearing to receive testimony on the bill. The notice for the hearing can be viewed here.

 

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