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Calendar No. 536
113th Congress Report
2d Session 113-246
TO MAKE TECHNICAL CORRECTIONS TO THE NAVAJO WATER RIGHTS SETTLEMENT IN
THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
August 26, 2014.--Ordered to be printed
Filed, under authority of the order of the Senate August 25
(legislative day, August 21), 2014
Mr. Tester, from the Committee on Indian Affairs,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany S. 1447]
The Committee on Indian Affairs, to which was referred the
bill (S. 1447) to make technical corrections to certain Native
American water rights settlements in the State of New Mexico,
and for other purposes, having considered the same, reports
favorably thereon with an amendment and an amendment to the
title and recommends that the bill, as amended, do pass.
The purpose of S. 1447 is to make technical corrections to
the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, as established by the
Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, Public Law 111-11,
43 U.S.C. 407 note.
S. 1447 would make technical amendments to the Navajo-
Gallup Water Supply Project, which was authorized in the
Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. The Act directed
the Secretary of the Interior to design, construct, operate and
maintain a water supply project that would provide water to the
Navajo Nation, the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and the City of
Gallup, New Mexico. The Act provided that the Navajo Nation
would pay for any costs of operations and maintenance of the
Project facilities that are allocable to the Navajo Nation
after a 10-year grace period that is triggered by the first
delivery of project water. The original Act also allowed, in
error, 2 percent and 4 percent of authorized funding to be used
for cultural protection and fish and wildlife facilities,
respectively. This original allocation was a reversal of the
parties' original intent.
The Act also approved the water rights Settlement Agreement
between the Navajo Nation, the United States, and the State of
New Mexico. A separate Contract between the Navajo Nation and
the United States was also incorporated as part of the
Settlement Agreement. The Act also set forth certain deadlines
that must be met regarding implementation of the Settlement
Agreement and Contract, and, if those deadlines were not met,
provided the stream adjudication court the authority to nullify
the Settlement Agreement. The current statutory language also
implies that the state stream adjudication court would have
jurisdiction to nullify the Contract between the Navajo Nation
and the United States, which was not the intent of the parties.
Finally, the Act limited certain authorized funding to
include only the construction or rehabilitation of certain
wells. The Act did not include the necessary authorization for
the planning or design of those projects.
NEED FOR LEGISLATION
Clarifying ambiguities in the Omnibus Public Land
Management Act of 2009 and aligning statutory provisions with
the original intent of the stakeholders can only be
accomplished by Congressional action.
S. 1447 was introduced on August 1, 2013, by Senator Tom
Udall and Senator Martin Heinrich. The bill was referred to the
Committee on Indian Affairs. On September 10, 2013, the
Committee held a hearing on the bill. On June 11, 2014, the
Committee met at a business meeting to consider the bill. Two
amendments were offered, and the bill, as amended, was ordered
to be reported favorably to the Senate.
Section 1. Short title
This Act may be cited as the ``Navajo Water Settlement
Technical Corrections Act.''
Section 2. Navajo water settlement
Sections 2(a) and 2(b) correct several misspellings and
incorrect internal references within the Omnibus Public Land
Management Act of 2009. Section 2(c) clarifies that the Nation
can take delivery of non-project water but it is responsible
for the associated operation and maintenance costs. Section
2(d) expands the current funding authorization for
``construction and rehabilitation'' to also expressly include
the planning and design phases of construction and
rehabilitation. Section 2(d) also fixes an error in the Act
which prescribed, in error, 2 percent and 4 percent funding for
cultural resource protection and fish and wildlife facilities,
respectively. Section 2(d) switches the percentage allocations
to properly address the original intent of the parties.
Finally, Section 2(e) clarifies that the Court presiding over
the stream adjudication has jurisdiction to nullify the Water
Rights Settlement Agreement, but not the contract supplying
water to the parties.
SUMMARY OF THE AMENDMENTS
Senator Udall of New Mexico filed two amendments to S.
1447. One amendment removed the provisions of the bill, as
introduced, that would have made technical amendments to the
Taos Pueblo Indian Water Rights Settlement Act and the Aamodt
Litigation Settlement Act. This left S. 1447 as amending only
portions of the existing Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project.
The second amendment renamed the title of the bill to reflect
COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS
The following cost estimate, as provided by the
Congressional Budget Office, dated July 18, 2014, was prepared
for S. 1447:
July 18, 2014.
Hon. Jon Tester,
Chairman, Committee on Indian Affairs,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 1447, the New Mexico
Navajo Water Settlements Technical Corrections Act.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Aurora
Douglas W. Elmendorf.
S. 1447--New Mexico Navajo Water Settlement Technical Corrections Act
S. 1447 would amend the Navajo Settlement Act to authorize
the Bureau of Reclamation to participate in planning of
groundwater well projects for the Navajo Nation in New Mexico.
The bill also would clarify the intent of certain provisions of
that act and shift some authorized spending among authorized
activities. Based on information from the Bureau of
Reclamation, CBO estimates that implementing the legislation
would not affect the federal budget. Because enacting S. 1447
would not affect revenues or direct spending, pay-as-you-go
procedures do not apply.
Under current law, the bureau is authorized to construct
and rehabilitate groundwater wells and related pipeline
facilities to distribute groundwater for municipal use by the
Navajo Nation. S. 1447 would authorize the bureau to
participate in the planning and design of those projects. Based
on information from the bureau, those activities would be
accommodated under the existing authorization ceiling for this
The bill would clarify that the Navajo Nation can take
delivery of non-project water but is responsible for the
associated operation and maintenance costs. S. 1447 also would
reallocate a portion of spending for fish and wildlife
facilities to the preservation of archaeological resources near
the project. Those changes would not affect federal spending.
S. 1447 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Aurora Swanson.
The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant
Director for Budget Analysis.
REGULATORY AND PAPERWORK IMPACT STATEMENT
Paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the
Senate requires each report accompanying a bill to evaluate the
regulatory and paperwork impact that would be incurred in
carrying out the bill. The Committee believes that S. 1447 will
have a minimal impact on regulatory or paperwork requirements.
The Committee has received no communications from the
Executive Branch regarding S. 1447.
CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW
On June 11, 2014, the Committee on Indian Affairs
unanimously approved a motion by Chairman Tester to waive the
Cordon rule. Thus, in the opinion of the committee, it is
necessary to dispense with subsection 12 of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate in order to expedite the business
of the Senate.