To the editor:
In recent weeks, a great deal of misinformation has surfaced regarding efforts to provide clean drinking water to impoverished areas of the Navajo and Hopi reservations ...
Despite the importance of these issues, some have decided to level untrue attacks against the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement. Indeed, a March 29 letter to the editor, "Water allocation harms native rights," went so far as to call the legislative proposal "cultural imperialism." These individuals are misconstruing the terms of the agreement and making false assertions, which include allegations that environmental reviews would be eliminated and that tribes would be required to waive their claims, even if the United States never appropriates funding. Such gross misrepresentations are an affront to the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe, and to Senator McCain and me.
It's time to set the record straight. The proposed agreement would require officials to comply with all environmental laws and is consistent with previous water settlements in New Mexico, Montana and Arizona. Tribes retain the right to file water rights claims until Congress appropriates the funding in full for the drinking water projects. And while tribes are waiving their rights to the Little Colorado River, they nonetheless preserve their claims to the mainstem of the Colorado River.
Presently, the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe are in the process of evaluating the settlement. That analysis should be based on the facts, not faulty information from an uninformed few. The tribes must be given an opportunity to determine for themselves whether they support the settlement. If they do, Senator McCain and I will use our best efforts to secure passage of the legislation that embodies the terms of their agreement.
U.S. SEN. JON KYL