Opinion

Opinion: No reason for worry in notices on Apache water rights






White Mountain Apache Tribe Chairman Ronnie Lupe spoke about the water rights settlement in Washington, D.C., on July 30, 2013. Photo: Tami A. Heilemann - Office of Communications / US Department of the Interior

Attorney David A. Brown explains the need for a water rights settlement with the White Mountain Apache Tribe of Arizona:
The White Mountain Apache Tribe has struggled to provide a reliable drinking water source for its people. During the summer months, the well fields often have shortages. It is extremely expensive to develop water resources beyond the well fields. Among other things, the settlement will pay for the development of the Miner Flat Dam Project on the north fork of Whiteriver, which will provide a reliable drinking water supply that meets the Tribe’s growing municipal, rural and industrial water needs. The project will include a dam and storage reservoir, a pipeline system, and water treatment plants in the Whiteriver, Fort Apache, Canyon Day, Cedar Creek, Carrizo and Cibecue areas. Supply to recreational lakes and fish hatcheries will also be part of the deal. These improvements will cost approximately $202 million, funded by the federal government. The state of Arizona is contributing $2 million in funds.

In return, the Tribe is providing waivers and releases of claims that benefit all present and future water users in the Little Colorado River and Gila River basins. These water users include people like you who may own wells or divert water from surface water sources.

What is important for you to know is that the Tribe’s waiver and release benefits all existing and future water users. This means that for now and in the future, the Tribe can never challenge your use of a groundwater well or your surface water diversion.

Get the Story:
David A. Brown: No cause for worry with court notice on water rights (The White Mountain Independent 5/28)