U.S. Water News Online
SANTA FE -- Santa Fe has made a down payment to the
Jicarilla Apache Nation to lease water over the next 50 years.
Mayor Larry Delgado gave the Jicarilla Apaches a check for
$450,000, the first installment of what ultimately could amount to
$75 million to the tribe.
The check represents a holding fee that kept the water rights off
the market in 2004 and 2005. The city is to pay another holding fee
of $300,000 for 2006.
Under the lease, which is to begin in 2007, the city could take up
to 3,000 acre feet a year of Jicarilla's "future-use" allocation of
6,500 acre feet from the San Juan-Chama diversion project. An acre
foot, about 326,000 gallons, can meet the annual water needs of one
to two U.S. households.
Starting in 2007, the city will pay the tribe $1.5 million a year
to lease up to 3,000 acre feet through 2057. The city has agreed to
pay a fair market value for the water, currently estimated at about
$500 per acre-foot per year.
Delgado said either side can cancel the agreement at any time.
The federal government recently approved the lease agreement
between the city and the tribe. The Santa Fe City Council and the
Jicarilla Apache Tribal Council signed the agreement in summer 2004.
The tribe and the federal government say it's the first long-term
water lease between an American Indian tribe and a municipality.
Jicarilla President Levi Pasata said the pact allows his
3,560-member tribe to benefit from its water and help Santa Fe. The
tribe also has short-term agreements to supply water to Farmington
and Aztec in case of drought, he said.
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