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Decisions loom on tribal water rights settlement

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Navajo and Hopi lawmakers soon are expected to decide
the fate of a water rights settlement that could end years of litigation or send
the tribes back to court.

The settlement recognizes the rights of the tribes to groundwater within the
Little Colorado River basin. The Navajo Nation also would get nearly
three-fourths of surface water from the river.

Both tribes would waive further claims to the river system in exchange for
groundwater delivery projects paid for by the federal government.

Republican U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona has introduced legislation in Congress
to approve the settlement. But that won’t move forward without the blessing of
the tribes.

Hopi lawmakers could take a stance as early as Friday. The Navajo Nation
Council is expected to vote sometime this month.