Navajo Nation Funds Water Projects
By Tristan Ahtone
May 10, 2013

Photo courtesy of Navajo Nation Water Code Administration
Cable tool drilling rig in Canyon De Chelly.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- With drought affecting much of the Southwest, the Navajo Nation is working to bring water to its citizens with the tribal government recently approving more than $8 million for water infrastructure projects.

The Navajo Nation is roughly the size of West Virginia, has a population of around 170,000 people, and much of the Nations citizens are in need of water.

"Between 30 to 40 percent of our homes still do not have electricity, and for water that's even higher, so there's a great need," said Ernie Zah, communications director for Navajo President Ben Shelley.

Zah said current funding will take care of some needs, but not all.

"Anytime we spend money to build water infrastructure there's always going to be the communities that are asking: 'what about us?' and that makes a difficult decision for us," he said.

Zah said the recent passage of a spending package to dig water wells, construct water lines, create conservation plans and study water supplies will go a long way to securing the resource for Navajo citizens. He also said more money is expected in the future from state and federal sources, pending the success of this initial round of funding. Zah said this will be especially important given an ongoing drought.