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As wells run dry, Hualapai tribe urges Senate to pass proposed Colorado River water plan

The Colorado River at Diamond Creek, on Hualapai land
Melissa Sevigny
The Colorado River at Diamond Creek, on Hualapai land

The newly proposed Hualapai Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act of 2022 would allow water rights to the Colorado, Verde and Bill Williams rivers and would fund infrastructure to deliver about 4,000 acre-feet of water annually to the tribe.

Hualapai Chairman Damon Clarke told a Senate committee Wednesday that access to Colorado River water is the only solution for the tribe’s failing wells as the drought continues.

The Hualapai have had to pump aquifer water and haul it along a gravel road to Grand Canyon West where they operate the Skywalk tourist attraction, a glass-bottomed walkway that extends over the edge of the Grand Canyon. According to the Navajo-Hopi Observer, water scarcity has affected the tribe’s ability to offer tourist services.

Though the Colorado River serves as the northern boundary for the reservation, previous agreements with the Federal Government have not allowed the tribe to draw water from the river and they’ve had to rely on wells.

The unprecedented drought has depleted water in Lakes Mead and Powell, dried up wells and taxed nearby aquifers.