TWIN LAKES, N.M. (AP) — Federal, state and tribal officials gathered Saturday in western New Mexico to break ground on the massive Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project.
The 280-mile, $1 billion pipeline project will serve more than 43 Navajo communities in New Mexico and Arizona, the city of Gallup and a portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation in northern New Mexico.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar pointed to the project as one of the Obama administration's priorities, saying it will honor commitments to tribal nations and help resolve long-standing water disputes.
Legislation passed by Congress in 2009 settled Navajo water rights claims in the San Juan River Basin and authorized a pipeline to serve Gallup and Navajo communities in New Mexico and eastern Arizona.
Federal officials said the first water delivery to Navajo communities could happen in two to three years, but it will take at least 12 years to complete the entire project.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.