Chairman Ronnie Lupe of the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Lupe, 87, has led the tribe for nine terms over the last 50 years and has said he won't seek re-election. Photo by Evan Bell / Cronkite News
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House subcommittee takes up water bill for White Mountain Apache Tribe

A bill to help the White Mountain Apache Tribe with a critical water project is making its way through Congress.

Congress ratified the tribe's water rights settlement in 2010. But the tribe has been unable to complete the drinking water system on the Fort Apache Reservation in Arizona due to an uncertainty in the law about funding.

S.140 addresses the situation by authorizing the tribe to apply its settlement funds toward the project, also known as the Miner Flat Dam and Reservoir. The bill already passed the Senate on May 8.

“The federal government owes it to the White Mountain Apache Tribe to meet its obligation under the water rights settlement that Congress enacted in 2010,” Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) , a co-sponsor of S.140, said a press release at the time.

S.140 is now taking a step forward in the House this week. The Subcommitte on Water, Power and Oceans, which is part of the Committee on Natural Resources will take testimony on the bill at a hearing on Thursday morning.

"The tribe’s current water sources and infrastructure have been and continue to be grossly inadequate to meet the current demands and needs of our reservation communities," Chairman Ronnie Lupe said at a hearing on the water project in 2016. Lupe, 87, who has led the tribe for nine terms over the last 50 years, has said he won't seek re-election this year.

A witness list for the hearing on S.140 hasn't been posted online.

House Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans Notice:
Legislative Hearing on Trio of Water Bills (November 2, 2017)

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Senate Committee on Indian Affairs advances nine bills at first meeting (February 9, 2017)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs moves quickly on bipartisan bills (February 6, 2017)