WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced a nearly $327 million investment through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to continue fulfilling settlements of Indian water rights claims with funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Reclamation Water Settlements Fund. The funding will support major water projects across the West to secure reliable water supplies for tribes.
“Through the President’s Investing in America agenda, the Interior Department is continuing to uphold our trust responsibilities and ensure that tribal communities receive the water resources they have long been promised,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Reliable water is crucial to ensuring the health, safety and empowerment of Indigenous communities. I am grateful that tribes, some of whom have been waiting for this funding for decades, are finally getting the resources they are owed.”
The President’s Investing in America agenda is deploying record investments to provide affordable high-speed internet, safer roads and bridges, modern wastewater and sanitations systems, clean drinking water, reliable and affordable electricity, good paying jobs and economic development in every tribal community. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law alone invests more than $13 billion directly in tribal communities across the country. This includes $2.5 billion to implement the Indian Water Rights Settlement Completion Fund, which is helping deliver long-promised water resources to tribes and a solid foundation for future economic development for entire communities dependent on common water resources. Prior to the signing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, many Indian water rights settlements remained underfunded. The funding included in the law aligns with the President’s commitment to ensure the federal government honors its commitment to tribal nations and Indigenous communities, and ensures those commitments are fully realized.
There were 34 congressionally enacted Indian water rights settlements as of November 15, 2021, when the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was signed. The Department will allocate nearly $207 million from the Law and another $120 million from the Reclamation Water Settlements Fund for settlements that were enacted prior to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s execution. The Reclamation Water Settlements Fund was created by Congress in 2009 and will receive $120 million in mandatory funding annually from 2020 through 2029.
Indian water rights are vested property rights for which the United States has a trust responsibility to tribal nations. Federal policy supports the resolution of disputes regarding Indian water rights through negotiated settlements. Settlement of Indian water rights disputes breaks down barriers and helps create conditions that improve water resources management by providing certainty as to the rights of all water users who are parties to the disputes.
The following settlements will receive funding this year:
|Settlement||Total FY 2024 Allocation|
|Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project||$164,000,000|
|Aamodt Litigation Settlement||$69,100,000|
|Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement||$35,790,000|
|Ak-Chin Indian Water Community Rights Act||$22,500,000|
|Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement||$12,772,000|
|Southern Arizona Water Rights Settlement – Farm Extension||$9,000,000|
|Nez Perce Settlement||$6,100,000|
|Animas-La Plata Project (Colorado Ute)||$3,400,000|
|San Carlos Apache Tribe – Distribution System||$1,500,000|
|San Carlos Irrigation Project Rehab||$400,000|
|FY 2024 Allocation||$326,562,000|