U.S. Water News Online
PHOENIX -- Congress has given final approval to a measure
that designates more than 650,000 acre feet of Colorado River water
to Indian tribes who can lease it back to cities for a profit.
After more than a year of negotiation, the House gave final
approval and sent the bill to President Bush for his signature.
The bill ratifies outstanding water settlements involving the
Central Arizona Project and a series of other water claims involving
tribes in Arizona and New Mexico.
The Tohono O'odham Nation south of Tucson is to receive 37,800
acre feet of CAP water and the Gila River Indian Community south of
Phoenix would receive 155,700 acre feet.
The Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe in northern Arizona still want
their claims to the Colorado River settled, and those discussions
have barely begun. The San Carlos Apache Tribe also has claims
The CAP was authorized more than 30 years ago as a way of bringing
Colorado River water to Phoenix and Tucson.
The federal government spent more than $3.6 billion to build the
336-mile canal, which was finished in 1993, and then demanded that
Arizona repay $2.3 billion of the cost. The project board argued that
Arizona owed much less and refused to pay the bill.
The federal government sued, but Arizona forced a settlement and
agreed to pay $1.65 billion, an amount written into law with the
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