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Hualapai Agree To Settle Water Rights Conflict

colorado river
Mariana Dale/KJZZ
The Colorado River flows through the Grand Canyon.

The Hualapai Tribe has agreed to end a decades-long conflict over Colorado River water rights in exchange for a $134 million pipeline that will supply water to the tribe’s Grand Canyon tourist attractions.

About a million people visit Grand Canyon West each year to step out on the glass skywalk over the natural wonder.

Hualapai Chairman Damon Clarke spoke before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee last year, and said the attraction employs 300 tribal members and 300 non-natives. He said most drive two hours to work each day to live near a water source.

“We’re proud of the fact that the tribe is moving forward towards achieving full employment for our members and economic self-sufficiency, but the severe lack of water on the reservation is a major obstacle in reaching these goals,” Clarke said.

Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake have introduced legislation that would give the Hualapai 4,000 acre feet of Colorado River water each year, while securing enough water for the rest of the state. Almost 40 percent of Arizona relies on the Colorado River as its water source.

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