May 15, 2014--Three legislators challenge Navajo Water Rights Settlement (Daily Times)

Three legislators and an official with an agency that represents San Juan River irrigation ditches are asking New Mexico's highest court to cancel the Navajo Water Rights Settlement because they say its approval violated the state constitution. "There was no Legislature involvement," said Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec. The lawsuit filed Wednesday morning states the water rights settlement is void because former Gov. Bill Richardson in December 2010, just before leaving office, signed the compact with the Navajo Nation and federal government without submitting it first to the New Mexico Legislature, as is required in the state's constitution. "It makes no difference that the United States Congress has authorized the Navajo water compact," the lawsuit states, "because the New Mexico Legislature has not." The settlement that was approved on Aug. 19 in Aztec District Court allows the Navajo Nation to pull more than 600,000 acre-feet of water from the San Juan River. According to the lawsuit, that quantity is more than six times what Albuquerque's metro area diverts from the river, and 2010 U.S. Census findings predict it would serve the 42,127 Native Americans who live on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. Tribe officials have praised the settlement, but critics say it will dry the region and allow the tribe's government to sell its water to downstream cities, such as Santa Fe or Albuquerque.

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