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Senate Bill Would Settle Hualapai Claims to Colorado River Water

Havasupai Tribe

A bill introduced by Republican Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake would settle claims to water from the Colorado River made by the Hualapai Tribe. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the tribe says the deal is vital to sustain its population and enhance economic development.

The Hualapai Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act would allocate 4,000 acre-feet, or more than 1.3 billion gallons, of water per year. It would include a 70-mile pipeline from Diamond Creek to Peach Springs and the tribe-owned Grand Canyon West resort.

Hualapai Chairman Damon Clarke says the tribe has limited and declining water resources, and needs the Colorado River to boost employment and tourism. If passed, the project would cost the federal government more than $170 million dollars. But officials with the Department of the Interior say it’s likely to cost more. The agency also is concerned that the project’s costs don’t justify the relatively small amount of water it would deliver.

Nearly 1,800 Hualapai live on the reservation. The tribe operates the Grand Canyon Skywalk, and says more than a million tourists visit the site each year. 

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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