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Havasupai Sue To Protect Their Water

Havasu Falls
Laurel Morales
The Havasupai Reservation is best known for its waterfalls. Tourism is the tribe’s main source of income.

A tribe that lives in the Grand Canyon has filed a lawsuit to protect its water. The Havasupai Tribe filed its claim in federal district court Dec. 6.

The Havasupai are worried about a growing number of wells on the Coconino Plateau that draw groundwater from the same aquifer that feeds Havasu Creek. The creek runs through Supai Village and Grand Canyon National Park. 

Havasupai means “people of the blue green water.” The tribe’s chairman said the people depend on the water to live.

Not only is Havasu Creek their drinking water source but it’s also their livelihood. Thousands of tourists visit their waterfalls each year.

“Our very being and continuance as Havasupai depends on the continued flow of our water and our ability to rely on it continuing forever, as it has since the canyons formed,” Havasupai Chairman Don Watahomigie said. “We have been fighting to protect the springs for nearly a century. It is time for us to take this broader action to protect our water time immemorial.”

Wells have been drilled into the R-aquifer to supply water to uranium mines, commercial developments and municipalities. 

Laurel Morales was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2011 to 2020.