McMillen Awarded $10.75 Million Contract Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project
The Bureau of Reclamation today awarded a $10.75 million contract for construction of a pipeline to implement a landmark American Indian water rights settlement for two tribes in western New Mexico.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said McMillen LLC of Boise, Idaho, would build the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project — one of 14 high-priority infrastructure projects identified by the Obama administration to benefit from an expedited permitting and environmental review process. The project features about 280 miles of pipeline, several pumping plants and two water treatment plants.
When completed, the project will, for the first time, provide a long-term water supply to about 203,000 people in Navajo communities, as well as 1,300 people in the Jicarilla Apache Nation and about 47,000 people in the city of Gallup.
Construction will begin this summer, and water is expected to start flowing in two to three years — welcome news to hundreds of Navajo Nation households that now have to haul water.
The project is part of a water rights settlement that resolves a 25-year dispute over how much water the Navajo Nation should receive from the San Juan River.
“This construction contract award marks a major milestone for this high-priority infrastructure project as we work to implement the historic water rights settlement that will deliver clean drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people and offer certainty to water users across the West,” Salazar said. “In the short term, this project is expected to create hundreds of high-paying construction jobs; in the long term, the permanent water supply will vastly improve the quality of life and offer greater economic security for the Navajo Nation.”
The project, which eventually will deliver about 37,376 acre-feet of water annually from the San Juan River Basin, will also allow the city of Gallup to stop mining groundwater. Without the pipeline, the city’s future would be uncertain, city officials have said.
Today’s contract is for the first phase of the project, which will lay about 4 miles of pipeline about 8 miles north of Gallup in western New Mexico. Construction of future pipeline sections will be carried out by Reclamation, the city of Gallup, Navajo Nation and the Indian Health Service with some financial backing from Reclamation.
Interior estimates that 400 to 450 jobs will be created from the various contracts to be awarded within the first year; that will increase to 600 to 650 jobs at the peak of construction.
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