Posted on Sep 14 2016
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) today appeared before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee to testify in support of S.3300, The Hualapai Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act. Flake and U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced this legislation to settle the water rights claims of the Hualapai Tribe. The major water settlement bill will deliver a greater degree of certainty for water users throughout Arizona and provide the Hualapai Tribe with opportunities for economic growth. Chairman of the Hualapai Tribal Council, Dr. Damon R. Clarke also testified in support of the legislation.
“As I have often said, Arizona has a history of forward looking water planning. We need to continue this kind of planning and do more,” said Flake. “This legislation is one of the next steps that we need to take, both for the sake of the Hualapai Tribe and for those of us in Arizona who depend on Colorado River water.
Video of Flake’s and Dr. Clarke’s remarks can be viewed here.
A transcript of Flake’s remarks can be viewed below.
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice Chairman, I appreciate you holding this hearing and allowing me to provide testimony on S.3300, The Hualapai Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act. I would also like to welcome the Hualapai Tribe's Chairman, Dr. Clarke, and thank him for his appearance before the Committee today. Representatives from the other parties to this settlement - the State of Arizona, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, the Salt River Project, and the Freeport Minerals Corporation - are here today as well. They are in support of the settlement and I would like to include their statements for the record.
Last week, this water settlement act was introduced and it is important obviously for the State of Arizona and the tribes. This roughly one-million-acre reservation is ill-suited for an economy based on mining, oil and gas, timber, and agriculture. What the Hualapai Tribe has done is build an economy based on one resource they have in abundance - people wanting to see and experience the Grand Canyon and Colorado River. The tribe's development at Grand Canyon West draws nearly one million visitors each year to Northwestern Arizona. Without access to additional reliable water supplies, they are unable to realize its full potential, which includes a residential community at Grand Canyon West for their tribal members who work there. In short, the legislation provides significant but fair benefits for the Hualapai tribe.
This legislation also has benefits outside the reservation and region. The Hualapai Tribe makes a claim to Colorado River, a critically important water source for the state that provides roughly 40 percent of our water supplies. Because of the priority of the tribe's claims, there is the possibility that future development of their water rights would displace current water users in Arizona. This fair settlement dedicates 4,000 acre-feet of CAP's Colorado River water to the tribe in a way that puts them on-par with existing CAP water users. For those unfamiliar with Arizona water, I should point out that CAP serves an area with nearly 80 percent of the state's population - so we are talking about widespread impacts here.
As I have often said, Arizona has a history of forward looking water planning. We need to continue this kind of planning and do more. This legislation is one of the next steps that we need to take, both for the sake of the Hualapai Tribe and for those of us in Arizona who depend on Colorado River water. I look forward to working with the committee to advance this bill and find a suitable offset for the spending that is authorized by it.