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Water and Sanitation Bill Largest-Ever Spending Package Passed by Navajo Council

The Navajo Nation Council has approved the largest spending package in its history. It’ll be funded by a settlement the tribe received from a federal lawsuit, and benefit several water and sanitation projects. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The council unanimously approved the bill that would allocate $180 million to more than 100 projects throughout the Navajo Nation.

Members of the council say many communities throughout the Navajo Nation suffer from poor water quality, and believe the bill will enhance public health by cleaning up water contamination, and pave the way for economic development.

The funds would come from a $554 million settlement of a lawsuit that alleged the federal government mismanaged the tribe’s natural resources for more than a half-century. It was the largest settlement ever obtained by an American Indian tribe.

Under Navajo Nation law, the funds from the settlement must be used for infrastructure, economic and community development as well as education.

President Russell Begaye will have until next week to consider the council’s bill.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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