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Navajo Nation Hasn’t Pursued Little Colorado River Dam Proposals

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Navajo Nation officials say they haven’t pursued proposals made by a Phoenix-based company to build dams on the Little Colorado River. The hydro-storage facility would be located on tribal land near the confluence of the Colorado River. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Representatives with the company Pumped Hydro Storage presented the proposals to the Navajo Nation Division of Economic Development in June. According to the agency, tribal officials asked questions about the two separate projects, but didn’t commit their support.

Coby Tom, a spokesperson with Navajo Economic Development, says the projects aren’t favorable to the tribe, and there’s concern about effects on local communities.

Steve Irwin with Pumped Hydro Storage, however, says he was under the impression the tribal agency favored the proposals.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has accepted preliminary applications for the dam projects. They’d include a total of four dams up to 240 feet high, as well as four reservoirs. The permits don’t allow Pumped Hydro Storage to disturb the area or enter without permission.

Conservation groups say the projects represent a grave threat to the fragile environment of the Little Colorado River.

A public comment period for the proposal is open until Nov. 22, 2019.


Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers 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 frequent contributor to NPR.
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