A New Mexico state court today approved a major water rights settlement for the Navajo Nation, awarding the tribe enough water from the San Juan River to expand its agricultural operations in northwest New Mexico.
Navajo Nation Assistant Attorney General Stanley Pollack called it “an historic milestone in the Navajo Nation’s efforts to secure the water rights necessary to ensure a permanent homeland for the Navajo People.”
Amy Haas, chief counsel for the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, called the long-awaited decision “fantastic.”
The ruling by Judge James Wechsler, reprenting New Mexico’s Eleventh Judicial District Court in San Juan County, grants the court’s approval to a 2005 agreement between the Navajo Nation and the state of New Mexico settling the Navajo’s water rights claims on the San Juan.
The agreement would allow the Navajo Nation, already one of the state’s largest water rights holders, an additional 130,000 acre feet of water for farming above and beyond the 195,400 acre feet that the nation currently uses.
Albuquerque attorney Victor Marshall, who represents opponents of the deal, declined comment. I’ll have more in tomorrow’s newspaper.