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President Joe Biden has approved three bills that will improve access to water for three tribes in Arizona amid an unrelenting drought.
One of the measures that Biden signed Thursday settles longstanding water rights claims for the Hualapai Tribe, whose reservation borders a 100-mile stretch of the Colorado River as it runs through the Grand Canyon. Hualapai will have the right to divert up to 3,414 acre-feet of water per year, along with the ability to lease it within Arizona.
One acre-foot is enough to supply two to three average households per year.
ARIZONA TRIBES STRUGGLING TO ACCESS WATER
Three bills have been passed to improve water access for three Arizona tribes, including the Hualapai Tribe, Colorado River Indian Tribes and White Mountain Apache Tribe. Pictured: The Colorado River flows through the Grand Canyon on the Hualapai reservation on Aug. 15, 2022.
(AP Photo/John Locher, File)
Another of the bills gives the Colorado River Indian Tribes based in Parker the ability to lease water from the Colorado River. The tribe has one of the oldest, largest and most secure allocations of water in the entire river basin that stretches into seven states in the U.S. West.
The tribe can lease only a portion of its Arizona allocation within the state. It also has Colorado River water rights in California.
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The third bill amends a 2010 water rights settlement for the White Mountain Apache Tribe in eastern Arizona, authorizing additional funding and extending deadlines to complete a rural water system and dam.
Congress approved the bills late last year.