A bill introduced by Republican Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake would settle claims to water from the Colorado River made by the Hualapai Tribe. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the tribe says the deal is vital to sustain its population and enhance economic development.
The Hualapai Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act would allocate 4,000 acre-feet, or more than 1.3 billion gallons, of water per year. It would include a 70-mile pipeline from Diamond Creek to Peach Springs and the tribe-owned Grand Canyon West resort.
Hualapai Chairman Damon Clarke says the tribe has limited and declining water resources, and needs the Colorado River to boost employment and tourism. If passed, the project would cost the federal government more than $170 million dollars. But officials with the Department of the Interior say it’s likely to cost more. The agency also is concerned that the project’s costs don’t justify the relatively small amount of water it would deliver.
Nearly 1,800 Hualapai live on the reservation. The tribe operates the Grand Canyon Skywalk, and says more than a million tourists visit the site each year.