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KNAU and Arizona News

Congress Passes Finalized White Mountain Apache Water Settlement

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The U.S. House Monday passed a bill to finalize a federal water settlement with the White Mountain Apache Tribe. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it’ll help provide a long-term water source on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.

In recent decades, drought has diminished groundwater on the reservation, threatening local communities and forcing the tribe to impose tight restrictions.

The bill authorizes funding to complete the Miner Flat Dam on the North Fork of the White River. A reservoir and water delivery system will serve thousands of residents in Fort Apache, Whiteriver and other areas.

"The White Mountain Apache Tribe will continue to have safe, clean drinking water for more than the next 100 years. And it will also provide some jobs and opportunities for our people in surrounding communities," says Jerry Gloshay, chief of staff for Tribal Chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood.

The $125 million project was originally approved in 2010, but was delayed after unexpected geological complications caused cost overruns.

Congressman Tom O’Halleran sponsored the House bill, and Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake backed the Senate’s version, which passed earlier this month. It now goes to President Trump’s desk for his consideration.

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