Hualapai Tribe to get 4,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water per year
KINGMAN – An agreement to settle the Hualapai Tribe’s water rights claim in northwestern Arizona would bring a rare resolution that creates positive outcomes for everybody, ADWR Director Tom Buschatzke said during a Dec. 6 hearing in Washington, D.C.
Buschatzke said Arizona strongly supports the Hualapai Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act of 2017, which was sponsored by Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, both R-Arizona.
In his opening statement to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Buschatzke called the agreement “a great step forward.”
The agreement provides 4,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water a year to the Hualapai Tribe. It’s a major step in providing water certainty to all water users throughout Arizona, the director of Arizona Department of Water Resources said.
Half of Arizona’s 22 Indian tribes recognized by the federal government still have unresolved water rights claims, Buschatzke noted.
“Resolving these claims through settlement is a strategic priority for the state, not only because it will avoid the cost and uncertainty of litigating the claims, but it will provide certainty to all water users in the state regarding available water supplies in the most expeditious manner possible,” he said.
The water agreement is a critical economic opportunity for the Hualapai Tribe, which operates Grand Canyon West and the famous skywalk that attracts 1 million visitors a year.
In his written testimony, the ADWR director broke down the financial responsibilities that each of the parties agreed to shoulder.
Those investments include a congressional funding of $134.5 million to build a pipeline to bring Colorado River water to Peach Springs and Grand Canyon West.
Under questioning from Sen. Flake during the hearing, Buschatzke assured the committee that the infrastructure and water would go exclusively to the Hualapai. The state of Arizona agreed to “firm” 557 acre-feet of the annual allocation to the tribe at a cost of $3.2 million.